LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In the spring of 2016, Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens caused quite an uproar by announcing that the school district would freeze salaries for employees making more than $14 per hour.
Hargens based the decision on a study that found that Jefferson County schools have been paying “at or above the maximum of the market pay range” for more than 7,000 district employees.
Not surprisingly, district employees were pretty upset about the announcement.
There were various forms of angry protests throughout the spring, and an online petition to urge the school board to fire Hargens attracted thousands of signatures in a very short time.
“Thousands of parents, teachers, students, community members and other district employees have been participating in walk-ins at more than 140 schools throughout the past week,” reported WDRB.com. “The rallies started either before the start of the day or after the day is over.”
The anger toward Hargens was not surprising, considering what she makes per year.
In 2015-16, Hargens was paid a straight salary of $276,000, which is enough to employ any number of full-time classroom teachers.
Then there was the “total amount paid on behalf of the Superintendent for retirement benefits (pension, IRA, etc.) during the 2015-16 academic year; and tax-deferred annuity contribution,” which came to $30,000.
Finally, the district paid $7,950 on her behalf to the Kentucky Teachers Retirement System.
That brought her total yearly compensation package to a grand total of at least $326,365 – $50,365 more than her base pay.
Yet there she was, telling thousands of school employees who make a fraction of what she does, that they are overpaid.
“A statement released from Superintendent Donna Hargens on Monday said that the district may not consider increasing salaries, subject to negotiations, until a ‘path forward is developed to achieve internal and external equity,’” WDRB.com reported.
Some might say that Hargens could start promoting that ‘path toward equity’ by setting an example and decreasing her own compensation.