LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools is paying its employees more money than comparable districts, according to a comprehensive salary review conducted by an outside firm that was released Tuesday.

That means JCPS is paying between $105-$119 million more each year in salaries. 

The 1,000-page study was released during a 5 p.m. work session with the Jefferson County Board of Education. The compensation and classification study looks at the salaries of every job in the district.

It found that JCPS pays premium salaries to its teachers providing a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining quality instructors and that more than 7,353 positions in JCPS are at or above the maximum of the market pay range.

"The goal to achieve salary reconciliation is to have an open, collaborative discussion with employees about different alternatives to solve the resource distribution issue, balancing the needs of employees, students and taxpayers," according to the report. "The problem developed over the last 17 years. It's the result of steps, cost of living increases and state mandates. There were no evil-doers here."

The report continues: "Now that we understand the problem, we must act to correct the situation. We're not going to be able to reverse trend over night."

The district's employees were told about the results of the study in an email sent out Tuesday around 4:30 p.m., according to Allison Martin, a JCPS spokeswoman.

The market survey results of teacher salaries found that current JCPS teacher pay schedules are significantly high to the market at all levels -- an average of $8,000 more per teacher per year.

No recommendations were made during the meeting, however, the district will bring several recommendations to the school board in the next month.

  • At the May 10 meeting, the board will be asked to approve recommendation that there be no step or cost of living increase in 2016-17 for all employees earning more than $14 an hour. In addition, the district will seek authorization from the board to negotiate a percentage increase for all employees earning less than $14 an hour in 2016-17.
  • At the May 24 meeting, the board will be presented with a plan for the study of a performance-based pay system and market reconciliation for certified administrators and classified staff. Alternatives could include a two-tier system that is similar to General Electric and Ford and/or freezing associates' pay when they reach the top of their range. 
  • In addition, the district will ask the board to initiate software evaluation and purchase for a local market pay assessment and a performance measuring software. Officials will also ask the board to re-market and expand the district's Tuition Assistance Program for classified employees to get their teaching degree and be part of the 55,000 degree program.

The review, which cost the district $192,000, was conducted by Virginia-based Management Advisory Group International Inc., following the 2014 audit of JCPS by Kentucky Auditor Adam Edelen.

In that audit, Edelen suggested JCPS do a salary review after it found central office employees were receiving significantly higher salaries than employees at comparable school districts. Edelen said JCPS spends more money on administration – and less on instruction – than similarly sized school districts, leaving the vast majority of teachers dipping into their own pockets for classroom needs.

This is the first salary study conducted by the district since 1979.

This story will be updated.

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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