FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A published report says many school districts across the state are giving modest increases to superintendents, but some have boosted pay by double digits.
An analysis by The Courier-Journal (http://cjky.it/18omhwZ) found that about 30 of the state's 173 school districts increased superintendents' pay by at least 15 percent from 2009-2013. The average pay raise in that time span was 3.7 percent. The review found that 49 districts reduced pay for superintendents.
The larger pay increases were defended by advocates for administrators, who said the competition for good leaders is intense.
"It's a sellers' market for superintendents," said Wayne Young, director of the Kentucky Association of School Administrators. "If you are a pretty good superintendent, people want to keep you or want to take you. I think that explains part of it."
Critics say the pay hikes are hard to justify at a time when state funding for education has decreased, prompting cuts in other areas.
"If these figures are correct, this is an embarrassment in terms of how the boards are conducting themselves and evaluating what their priorities should be," said House Education Chairman Derrick Graham, a Frankfort Democrat who said that taxpayers are responsible for ensuring school boards use resources wisely.
The newspaper reported that pay for teachers has also grown, on average, over the past five years by 4.8 percent. However, it said in districts where the superintendent's pay had a large increase, teachers' pay did not keep up. For example, the Clark County Schools increased the pay for its superintendent by 34 percent, from $105,000 to $141,000. By contrast, teacher pay increased by 2.9 percent during the same time period to an average of $46,600.
Kentucky Association of School Superintendents President James Flynn said the economic recession affected districts differently, and the changes are likely driven by local factors.
"The complexities of the (job) are pretty significant and leading a complex organization during a recession is very difficult," Flynn said. "When the stakes are high, boards want to have a high-quality leader at the helm."
Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com