Supt.’s $190K pay package brings dissenting vote

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BoE member Bacallao says pay “too high” compared to Fayette’s teachers

Newly hired Fayette School Superintendent Jody Barrow will get a raise over his predecessor. Barrow’s salary and benefits total $190,000.

That amount is $11,000 more than the salary received by former Superintendent Jeff Bearden, though some on the Fayette County Board of Education said the difference in pay was worth it to secure Barrow’s services.

While Barrow’s selection as superintendent was unanimous, the vote on his contract was approved on a 4-1 vote, with board member Mary Kay Bacallao opposed. Her opposition dealt with Barrow’s salary, which Bacallao said was too high in light of Fayette teachers making less than many of their counterparts in metro Atlanta.

“I believe Fayette County teachers need to be compensated as well as those in metro [Atlanta] and until then, I don’t think the superintendent should make $190,000,” Bacallao said.

Interim Superintendent Dan Colwell disagreed, saying based on what he knows after 40 years in education the compensation package is in line with superintendents across the state. Colwell agreed that school system staff are underpaid and need greater compensation.

Adding his take on the issue, board member Barry Marchman said, “For what the job entails I’m a little embarrassed that we can’t offer a better package.”

Asked after the meeting why Barrow’s contract included greater compensation than that of Bearden, Marchman said Barrow has more experience and has a better reputation. Marchman also provided additional information about the $190,000 Barrow will receive compared to the contract amount Bearden worked under.

While Bearden’s contract included a salary of $153,000, Marchman said additional benefits built into Bearden’s contract meant it was valued at $179,000.

Besides the benefits such as a travel allowance of $600 per month provided in both contracts, other added benefits Bearden received are not included in Barrow’s contract, Marchman said. Thus the difference in the two contracts is essentially $11,000, Marchman said, adding that that additional price is worth the cost given Barrow’s broader base of experience and his reputation.

By way of comparison, Cherokee County pays its superintendent $232,047, while Forsyth County pays $210,739 and Cartersville schools pay $184,989, according to state records.  

Included in Barrow’s three-year contract are moving expenses and a reimbursement of $1,000 per month until his house in Waycross closes. Both are customary and were also provisions in Bearden’s contract, said board member Bob Todd.

Barrow will be entitled to insurance and other benefits extended to school system employees and will be required to be deemed physically fit to serve by way of a complete physical exam not less than once every two years. The contract can be terminated by mutual agreement or if Barrow becomes disabled by illness or incapacity for a period of 90 consecutive days.

If he is discharged without cause, the board agreed to pay Barrow’s salary for up to 18 months. The 18-month provision was the other issue Bacallao had with the contract.

Todd in referencing the 18-month clause, said such a provision is customary and usually includes a time period of 1-3 years.

Barrow’s official start date is July 1.