Jul 12, 2013 7:58 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
Pay for Lafayette Parish school principals is a hot topic in the Lafayette Parish School System. The issue is some principals hired last year are getting paid more than other principals with more experience and higher education.
Fifteen principals have been hired since 2012, and five of them get paid for more days of work, and thus make more money than the others.
They have varying ranges of experience, but all five -- at Carencro High, Boucher, Faulk, Drexel and Ridge elementary schools -- get paid more than others with more experience and education.
School Board member Tehmi Chassion takes issue with principals being paid differently.
"Then change how much a principal is paid, that goes against the job description, any change in the job description has to come before the board and they basically changed the job description without coming to the board, and it's just basically a slap in the face to the board," Chassion said.
Cooper says it's his job to figure out how many days the principals work and ultimately how much they are paid. He says he is following new state law that changed the way school systems run a couple years ago.
"It takes away a lot of the power by school boards, giving it to the superintendent with the intent that the superintendent would run the school system like a business," Cooper says.
Cooper says he's running Lafayette Parish School System like a CEO. He says the tougher the school, the more money the principals should make because they have to "be" there more for the school to succeed.
"If you don't have the money to pay everybody 244, and i believe every principal needs to be paid 244, then i have to look at those situations where I absolutely must have a person there everyday," Cooper says.
But a KATC investigation shows that some principals who aren't working at struggling schools are getting paid more than the ones that do.
For example, Ridge and Drexel Elementary schools are "C" schools whose principals are paid for more days, but Northside, Carencro Middle, Acadian Middle, Carencro Heights, and Acadiana High schools are all "D" schools whose new principals get less days to work.
When we asked Cooper "why" he said salary also depends on how effective the principal has been.
"When we go out and recruit, we're not only looking at the schools that need the most help, we're looking at talent. It's the same way a baseball coach goes out and looks at baseball players. You might pay this player this much, or this player this much because they have more talent," he says.
All teachers and principals are paid based on their experience and advanced degrees.
And traditionally, elementary school teachers are paid to work 203 days, middle schools 213 and high school 224. That's the case for all but five of Lafayette Parish's 42 principals. Those five are paid to work 244 days.
See the complete list of principal pay here: