Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
New Dallas Independent School District superintendent Mike Miles spent much of the weekend defending high salaries paid to his new cabinet members.
Top Dallas school district cabinet members will be paid more than salaries for those jobs in the past.
Over the weekend, new Superintendent Mike Miles defended high pay for the four cabinet members he has hired so far, saying they face high expectations.
"We have to have a first-rate cabinet of national quality if we're going to be the premier urban school district in America," he said. "The salary range is not inordinate."
To put Miles' claim to the test, NBC 5 compared other Texas government salaries using The Texas Tribune's database.
Some of the local government officials have received small raises since the Tribune's database was posted last fall, but the comparisons are still valid.
Miles will receive a base salary of $300,000.
Former Dallas Independent School District Interim Superintendent Alan King will receive $225,000 as Miles' chief of staff.
DISD Chief of Operations Kevin Smelker will make $220,000. His predecessor made $174,000.
DISD Chief of Talent Charles Glover will be paid $182,000 in a newly created position.
New DISD Chief of Communications Jennifer Sprague, who worked for Miles in Colorado, will make $185,000 -- about $100,000 more than she did in her previous job.
The database shows that Houston Independent School District Communications Director Aggie Alvez also makes $185,000.
Communication officers, law enforcement officials and top managers in other school and government positions made less than the top DISD officials, according to the September 2011 database figures.
Over the past several years, DISD laid off teachers and eliminated raises for most employees who are still with the district.
Rena Honea, president of teacher group Alliance-AFT, said the high salaries Miles is paying his new leaders are discouraging rank-and-file employees.
"So the big question is, after hearing for two years the district has no money, where is this money coming from?" she said.
Dan Micciche, a new DISD school board member, said he did not agree with all the new salaries but said they are within the limits the board set.
"I think, on the whole, we're going to end up leaner than we are currently and operate better than we have been in the past," he said.
Honea said employees hope there will be improvements in academics and finances that help everyone at DISD.
"The proof will be in the pudding as to the job that they do," she said.