ROSWELL, N.M. – What are taxpayers in Roswell, New Mexico supposed to think about this?

On Feb. 16, the Roswell Daily Record reported that school district Superintendent Tom Burris had abruptly resigned.

The newspaper also reported that that the school board voted to place him on “paid administrative leave effective Feb. 16 through June 30,” and named his assistant, Susan Sanchez, as the acting superintendent.

We assume that means Burris will continue to draw his full salary and benefits through June 30, even though someone else is doing his job.

If that’s the case, it could be considered a pretty big waste of taxpayer dollars. Burris, like most superintendents, has been costing the school district big bucks, particularly when benefits are figured in.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, Burris received a straight salary of $149,907, benefits worth $24,244, and the school district made a retirement pension contribution of $20,837 on his behalf. That totals out to $194,988, or $16,249 per month.

Based on those figures, he might cost the district somewhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 for his four-plus months of administrative leave.

Obviously benefits are a big part of Burris’ compensation package, and drive up the payroll considerably. That’s also true for the Roswell district’s teachers.

In 2015-16, 625 Roswell teachers earned a combined $29,736,525 in base salary, which averages out to $47,578 per teacher.

Those teachers also received $6,322,769 in benefits (an average of $10,116), and the district made $4,126,076 in retirement contributions on their behalf (an average of $6,601).

That brings the average total compensation of teachers in the district up to $64,295 – $16,717 more than the average base salary.

Total benefits and retirement contributions for teachers totaled $10,448,845, which was more than one-third of their combined base salaries.

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