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Think tank says Tupelo superintendent is among state's top 5 highest paid public sector workers

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Tupelo Public School District, Tupelo, Mississippi

A report released yesterday states that Tupelo Public Schools’ Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou makes is the fifth highest paid public sector worker in Mississippi.

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — A report released Wednesday said Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Dr. Rob Picou is the fifth highest paid public sector worker in Mississippi.

Picou's salary is higher than what Gov. Tate Reeves makes. The governor earns $122,160 annually, and that will jump to $160,000 in 2024. Still, that puts the governor below the leader of public schools in Tupelo who makes $234,000.

The report included the fifty top paid public sector workers and was released by Mississippi Center for Public Policy. Douglas Carswell, president and CEO, of the conservative think tank, was surprised by the some of the names at the top of the list.

“You might expect the state governor or the lieutenant governor [to make the list],” Carswell said. “Not at all. They wouldn’t even make the top 100. Instead, we’ve got a few local school superintendents on the list.”

Carswell says the money is there. It just needs to go to the right places.

“Every time we have a conversation with Mississippi about improving public services, it rapidly becomes a conversation about how much federal dollars we should get, how much extra spending we should have,” Carswell said. “Maybe this report suggests the money is there. We just aren’t spending public money in the interest of the public, and we have got to fix that.”

Paul Mize is the school board president for Tupelo Public Schools. He says the salary aligns with the other yearly investments that are overseen by the board.

“I know Dr. Picou is the highest paid superintendent in the state. I think it shows our school board’s commitment to education and our community,” Mize said. “Every year, we make significant investments in our teachers and our infrastructures and our leadership. This is in line with that, and we are happy to have the resources to do so.”

Mize adds the money is going exactly where it needs to be.

“When we do our budget, we feel like we properly allocate our resources to the right positions, and we feel comfortable with where we have his salary, too, in relationship to where we spend money in the classroom,” says Mize.

The superintendent’s salary increased twelve percent this year from 2021. Lenna Eckford has nieces who attend Tupelo public schools. She wishes some of that money could be spent elsewhere.

“It’s a little bit insulting to be honest with you because...the Tupelo School District is a thriving school district and it means a lot to the community,” Eckford said. “However, to make $100,000 more than someone who runs the entire state, I think that is money that is misused. Not saying that he is not deserving of an adequate salary, but the fact that we have so many issues in our community and abroad. That money could be used elsewhere.”

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy says the state superintendent of education topped the list by making $300,000.

Other local superintendents making more than $200,000 annually include Corinth's Lee Childress at $210,780 and Grenada's David Daigneault at $205,764.

That puts both at 11th and 12th in the top 50 respectively.

News/Sports Reporter

Sami Roebuck is from Spring Hill, Tennessee. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee.

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