VanHoose Education Center | Photo by Olivia Krauth

Louisville’s city budget drama resurrected a longstanding criticism of its school district: Too many administrators make six-figure salaries.

Cut the salaries — the “$100K club” — and you’ll be able to save city pools, emergency services and other things potentially on the chopping block, they argue.

“If we cut the three figure (sic) salaries of JCPS bureaucrats, we could open the pools!” Martin Cothran, a policy analyst at The Family Foundation, tweeted earlier this month.

Just one problem: No part of the district’s $1.7 billion budget comes from Louisville’s metro government. JCPS’ budget, instead, pulls mainly from state per-pupil funding and local property tax revenue.

“Repeat after me. ‘The budget for Louisville Metro is separate from the #JCPS budget,'” board member Chris Brady tweeted earlier this month in response to Cothran.

“(Louisville’s budget) is not tied to the district’s budget,” Jefferson County Public Schools spokeswoman Renee Murphy confirmed Wednesday.

Even if the budgets were tied, the 3% of JCPS’ nearly 19,000 employees that make six-figure salaries would have to see a serious slash to cover the city’s looming $35 million shortfall.

JCPS spends roughly $780 million per year to cover all salaries, from custodians to cabinet members. About $70.9 million of that — 9% — goes to the 599 people who make over $100,000 in base salaries each year.

Many on the list are school principals, district administrators or people with technology skills, according to an Insider Louisville analysis.

The top 20 highest salaries, ranging from Marty Pollio’s $276,000 to an assistant superintendent’s $161,357, all belong to cabinet members and assistant superintendents.

That’s not to say administrators with doctorate degrees tasked with turning around one of the country’s 30 largest districts do not deserve a six-figure salary. Many would argue they do, and paying people what they’re worth allows the district to attract top talent.

It also isn’t to say cuts to central office spending aren’t possible to free up money within the district’s budget.

Superintendent Pollio has suggested reducing central office spending and less-than-successful district programs to move more funds into classrooms, starting with the 2019-20 budget. When asked Tuesday to name specific items on the district’s chopping block, however, Pollio was mum.

JCPS could still be impacted by cuts to city programs, depending on what Metro Council and Mayor Greg Fischer decide to cut. One potential casualty: Student resource officers.

A few school board members fear less funding for police agencies could lead to fewer SROs, which are contracted police officers, in schools. Brady said the contracts could become “prohibitively expensive” or simply not available.

Fischer is expected to announce his budget proposal Thursday.

Olivia Krauth
Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]