WLKY-TV’s sweeps piece on the salaries being pulled in by employees of the Jefferson County Public School system is sure to create some controversy.
I spoke to GM Glenn Haygood today, who said the station’s already been getting reaction from the outraged, groups and individuals who have had their eyes opened to what he called “stunning” amounts being paid to JCPS staff members. We’re not talking about teachers here — as none of them are in the $100K club. It will be interesting to see what the public thinks about assistant librarians pulling in fat salaries paid by taxpayers.
You can, of course, find the salaries of every JCPS employee on the Courier-Journal’s database. A quick check shows 332 JCPS employees in the $100K club. Sheldon Berman’s at the top with $260K, and a guy named Mark Hartman has this title: ASST DIR-PUPIL PERS and makes $100,063 for doing it.
But Haygood said that investigative reporter Duane Pohlman compared the payroll at JCPS with that of a similarly-sized school district in a market with a higher cost-of-living (he wouldn’t say which one, the tease). Let’s just say you can expect to learn that the JCPS salaries are higher.
“Ten of thousands of dollars in salaries for bureaucrats in a troubled school system, and you’re paying for it,” intones Pohlman in the promo. The series runs in two parts, at 5 and 11.
Now, some facts. I talked with Debbie Wesslund of the JCPS board, who cited some statistics that seem to contradict the WLKY report’s assumptions. She said that bureaucrat salaries make up less 5 percent of the payroll, and that under 2 percent is spent on administrative personnel, numbers she says are in line with national norms.
“We do have a pretty efficient system,” she said.
Wesslund also cited a report on the nation’s top 100 school districts published by the Council of Great City Schools, which she said recognized JCPS staffing levels as having “fewer administrators that one would expect” for a system of its size.
But looking at the report, there’s evidence of fat in the system and an administrator-heavy staff. JCPS ranked 525 of 537 districts studied in having one administrator for every 68 students. In a study of 14 comparable districts, JCPS ranked last in “Teachers as a Percentage of Total Staff.” And the report says “Jefferson County devotes a greater share of its total expenditures to personnel, i.e. salaries and benefits, than any of the comparison groups.”
Another of WLKY’s big revelations is that none of the $100K salary personnel are teachers — but Wesslund said teachers are paid well and that all of those high-salaried personnel work year-round, as opposed to most teachers, who get summers off.
But that’s not going to keep people from getting fired up when they hear how many JCPS staffers are enjoying their sweet salaries.