LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Have Jefferson County Public Schools gone overboard by trying to hold on to teachers by raising their pay?
A commissioned study, coming out of 2014's state audit, claims that more than half of JCPS teachers, administrators and professional support staff are overpaid compared to their counterparts in other districts, adding $105-118 million per year to expenditures.
"Doesn't mention anything about the classified staff that are poorly underpaid," said Bo Johnson, AFSCME Local #4011 representative, to WAVE 3 News Tuesday night. "We have 20 year employees making less than $20,000 a year to support a family."
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"The average teacher's salary is about $52,000 a year, not $83,000," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers' Association, referring to figures quoted in the study. "In other school districts, the district would be responsible for retirement and health insurance. Here, the state provides the health insurance and the teachers' retirement."
The study suggests the average JCPS administrator's compensation package is about $137,000 per year. The average librarian or social worker; about $100,000.
McKim called the benefits package "generous." The Kentucky Teachers' Retirement System is one of two state pension programs considered so grossly underfunded that the 2016 General Assembly and Gov. Matt Bevin budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars more to KTRS for the two upcoming fiscal years.
To pay for it, Bevin has cut spending for a number of state programs by 9 percent each fiscal year. Allocations to universities, community & technical colleges will be cut by 4.5 percent. The axe spares per-pupil spending in elementary and secondary schools, and most school support services. McKim said that likely will make wage bargaining tougher.
"Because the state is not providing additional money," said McKim. "And you rely on local revenue to be able to afford salary increases for our teachers."
JCTA's union contract stipulates that JCPS negotiate pay increases prior to each of the next two school years. The study recommends no step or cost-of-living raise for any employee earning more than $14 per hour. Those earning less would be eligible for a percentage.
"Our wage re-opener this summer, they're (JCPS board members) going to try to make amends for raises or any financial benefits that they were unable to issue over the last several years."
The board is expected to discuss the study proposals when it meets May 10. JCTA has called an organizing committee meeting Thursday to discuss its response to the study's findings.