LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A proposal to boost the salary of one of the highest paid administrators in Jefferson County Public Schools was voted down by the school board on Tuesday night.

Superintendent Donna Hargens had sought to change the job description and raise the salary of chief equity officer John Marshall from a Grade 16 to a Grade 18 on the JCPS pay scale, which would have given him a 5 percent bump from $160,953 to $169,000 annually.

Hargens said the proposal was an effort to make Marshall's salary comparable with the other chief members of her cabinet, adding that only Marshall and Allison Martin, the district's chief communications officer, were at a Grade 16, however, she was not recommending a boost in Martin's grade or salary, which is currently at $130,792.

The motion failed by a 1-2-2 vote, with vice chairwoman Diane Porter voting in favor, board members Steph Horne and Linda Duncan opposed and board members Chris Brady and Lisa Willner abstaining. Board chairman David Jones Jr. and board member Chuck Haddaway were absent.

"We have been criticized for our administrator salaries," Duncan said, adding the district has had two audits that have mentioned high administrative salaries. "Is there a top out?"

Brady said he was concerned about raising Marshall's pay grade, while not raising Martin's. 

"We're using other positions that aren't up for discussion as justification," Brady said. "This could be very real equity issue."

Hargens said she was not prepared to talk about anything else but item on the agenda, which was Marshall's salary boost.

The proposed boost in Marshall's salary was proposed at a time when the district has been looking at the true cost of administrative salaries. Earlier this year, the results of a salary study found that JCPS is paying "above market salaries” for roughly 7,000 employees, including administrators and school personnel.

Willner brought up the district's compensation study and talked about the disparities between employee salaries.

She said she needed to be able to say why she was voting to raise another administrative salary when other employee salaries are so low.

Hargens, who receives a salary of $276,000 annually, has six chief officers in her cabinet.

They (along with their salaries) include:

  • Michael Raisor, chief operations officer, $177,012
  • Tom Hudson, chief business officer, $175,323
  • Lisa Herring, chief academic officer, $166,950
  • John Marshall, chief equity officer, $160,953
  • Dena Dossett, chief of data management, planning and program evaluation, $160,143
  • Allison Martin, chief communications officer, $130,792

In addition, JCPS' chief financial officer, Cordelia Hardin, makes $176,683.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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