Scott County Schools Superintendent Patricia Putty will be getting a salary increase of nearly $20,000 for the coming fiscal year, but at least for now there's no provision to raise district employees' pay.
The Scott County Board of Education approved a new contract for Putty last week boosting her pay more than 15 percent, from $127,260 to $147,000. That came two weeks after board members adopted a tentative budget for 2012-13 providing no across-the-board raises for workers.
The superintendent's pay increase was approved as part of a list of "consent" items, which board members can pass or reject en masse with a single vote.
The raise is under fire from one school board member, Haley Conway, who argues that it is a "PR disaster" for the Scott Schools to boost Putty's salary without giving employees an increase.
But School Board Chair Phyllis Young said Friday that Putty's contract called for a pay increase, and the superintendent had not received a raise for three years. Young said the budget that prohibits employee raises is still only tentative and could change later.
Young said no district employees have called her to complain about the raise.
"I haven't gotten any phone calls, I haven't gotten any e-mails or anything," she said.
Conway said, however, that he's been swamped with calls from unhappy employees, including roughly 40 calls between Thursday and Friday afternoon.
"I just felt it was very unfair to raise her (Putty's) salary roughly $20,000 two weeks after the board voted to provide no across the board raise for employees," said Conway, who voted against the pay increase.
"I told them at the school board meeting that this would generate tremendous animosity, and create a morale crisis in the school district. I said it's a PR disaster in the community. Apparently, they didn't agree."
Putty, who was named superintendent in 2008, did not return a phone call.
The situation comes when relations between the school board and some Scott County residents already are strained over the board's decision to build a new elementary school, rather than a new high school. Individuals identifying themselves as school district workers have been posted angry comments on the website of "Scott County High School Too Big To Succeed," a Scott County citizens group that's been complaining for months about the board's decision to build a new elementary school.
The citizens group argues that the existing Scott County High School is badly overcrowded, and the board should be building a new high school, not an elementary. The criticism earlier this year led the board to name a task force to explore ways of funding a new high school. A report from that panel is expected early next month.
Regardless, Young said Scott Schools employees have received a number of 1-percent pay increases over the past few years, while Putty has received only one.
"They've received three increases versus her one pay increase," Young said. Young added that many superintendents in districts similar to Scott County in size were making more than Putty, and many male superintendents with the same experience as Putty were paid much more.
"Mrs. Putty was very behind," she said.
Young said it's too early in the budget process to say whether Scott Schools employees will get a pay increase.
"We've haven't gotten into that," she said. "We're just working out our tentative budget; we haven't set a budget for the year yet."
Conway, however, said Friday that he's heard of no sentiment on the school board to raise employee pay. The fiscal year ends June 30. But according to the Kentucky Department of Education, school districts have until Sept 30 to file their working budgets for the new fiscal year.
"The board pretty much takes its suggestions from central office," he said. "My understanding is there is nothing in the works for any raise for the next budgetary year."