St. Paul Schools superintendent starting work early in Austin

Empty chair
Superintendent Meria Carstarphen's chair sits empty Thursday, in the room where the St. Paul School Board meets. Meria has been tagged to lead the Austin, Texas School District
MPR photo/Tom Weber

Outgoing St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen won't start her new job in Austin Texas until July 1, but she's already being paid $1,000 a day as a consultant from her new district.

That's according to the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, which sought records under Texas public records laws.

The president of the Austin School Board, Mark Williams, said the consulting fee was approved as a fair way to compensate Carstarphen for work she's doing before actually starting her new job. Williams says it's similar to an arrangement Carstarphen had in St. Paul during her transition from her previous post in Washington three years ago.

Carstarphen has already been paid $16,000 for 16 days of work in Austin, plus another $1,500 for travel. She'll be paid $275,000 a year, starting in July. St. Paul district officials add that Carstarphen's work for Austin during the transition is considered personal time off from St. Paul.

The head of the Austin teachers' union said he doesn't object to the consulting fees, but added it's something taxpayers in Texas should know about.

Carstarphen will continue serving as superintendent in St. Paul until the end of the 2008-2009 school year.

The St. Paul district has named an interim superintendent, Suzanne Kelly, and hopes to name a permanent replacement some time during the next school year.

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