Edwardsville Superintendent Ed Hightower's contract pays him a salary of $164,185, one of the lowest of any of the larger school districts in the metro area. He earns about $20,000 a year in benefits, including a $700 a month auto allowance. According to the district, Dr. Hightower declines reimbursement for his cell phone bills. Dr. Hightower, who has been the Edwardsville Superintendent for fourteen years, runs a district with fourteen schools, an enrollment of 7,500 and 1,000 employees. Hightower receives $27,000 a year less in salary and benefits than Darcy Benway, the Superintendent of the O'Fallon Township High School 203 district, which has only one school, an enrollment of 2,500 and 200 employees. The link for Hightower's contract also has a comparison of salaries for metro-east Superintendents, which was conducted at the Board's request to see if Hightower was being compensated fairly.
Dr. Hightower has accumulated a bank of 240 unused sick days and 60 vacation days, which can be cashed out when he retires. Those days are worth more than $200,000 based on his current salary. The longtime superintendent has refused several pay raises in recent years because he believes it's hard to defend them when the district is making cuts as a result of a weaker economy.