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Making the Grade, O'Fallon Township High School District 203

by Craig Cheatham

KMOV.com

Posted on September 16, 2010 at 11:19 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 6:30 AM

Even though Darcy Benway is in charge of only one school (now on two campuses), but her contract guarantees that she's one of the highest paid Superintendents in the metro-east. Dr. Benway receives a $175,000 salary, plus $18,156.76 in retirement contributions, $10,822.20 in health insurance, $4,800 toward her annuity, and thirty vacation days. The number of vacation days is double the amount given to other administrators with twelve month contracts, and tied for the most vacation days given to any metro area superintendent. Dr. Benway is the only district employee who receives an annuity. In all, Dr. Benway receives about $210,000 a year in compensation, which means she makes more than the Superintendents of many much larger districts, including Edwardsville and Fort Zumwalt.

Dr. Benway's pay is "out of whack," according to the Show Me Institute, which reviewed her contract at our request. Audrey Spaulding, who conducted the study, has examined the contracts of more than 500 Missouri Superintendents as part of a recent report. School board President  Greg Cundiff initially declined to be interviewed on-camera for our story. "Why would I sit down and discuss it," Cundiff told me during a phone call. "The contract speaks for itself." But during the O'Fallon Township Board meeting tonight he talked with us and defended the contract based on what he called Benway's experience and effectiveness on the job.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about her contract, Dr. Benway is clearly running the most successful high school in the metro east and one of the premier high schools in the entire region. The school's test scores are outstanding. Even though every eligible student is required to take the ACT test in Illinois, OTHS's average ACT composite score is 23.1, well above the national average. Missouri schools are not required to test every student, which is significant because the poorest performing students can pull down your scores.

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