Education

Faculty and staff in Jefferson County Public Schools will be getting a 4% pay increase under a tentative agreement reached with the teacher’s union.

The across-the-board salary increase is the largest JCPS employees have seen in 15 years, according to superintendent Marty Pollio. The superintendent said a significant pay bump was needed to stem the tide of educators leaving the profession.

“We have a teacher shortage,” he said during a press conference Friday morning. “We know that teachers and educators are doing more than they’ve ever been asked to do. And we want to make sure that we give them that raise that they deserve.”

All employees will also get a one-time stipend of $1,000. The agreement also fully funds teachers’ “step increases,” or bumps in pay they get the longer they stay with JCPS.

Under the agreement educators in the district’s most high-needs schools would earn a salary supplement between $8,000 and $14,000. It’s a new benefit many district and community leaders believe will be crucial to the success of the new student assignment plan.

That salary supplement was key to gaining the Louisville NAACP’s and other Black leaders’ support for the student assignment plan. They’ve expressed concerns about the increase in segregation the new student assignment plan will bring, and historically, segregated schools have struggled to hire and retain teachers. JCPS is hoping the supplement will be significant enough to attract teachers to majority Black and low-income schools. 

“This is a salary agreement that will benefit kids in Jefferson County,” Jefferson County Teacher Association President Brent McKim said. “It will help us attract and keep teachers in every school, but it will particularly help us attract and keep great teachers at our most struggling schools where the kids need them the most.”

The Jefferson County Board of Education is expected to approve the salary agreement Tuesday.

JCPS is using federal pandemic relief funds to cover the $1,000 stipend and is reaching into its own local coffers to cover most of the 4% salary increase. The General Assembly did not fund pay raises for teachers this year, much to the chagrin of educators, some of whom called the decision a “slap in the face” after the challenges schools faced during the pandemic.

At the time, Republican leaders said districts could use a modest increase in overall education funding to pay for raises on their own. However, JCPS superintendent Marty Pollio said, lawmakers only gave JCPS enough to cover a raise of less than 1%.

During Friday’s press conference, Pollio called on the General Assembly to contribute more towards the state’s public education formula, known as SEEK.

“The looming crisis of a teacher shortage is real,” he said. “As a Commonwealth, as a legislature, as a nation, we are going to have to start funding schools at higher rates to ensure that we can compensate our teachers—attract more teachers to the profession than ever before.”

The average teacher salary in JCPS is around $65,000. 

If the new salary agreement is approved Tuesday, employees will start seeing increases in their July paychecks.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.