The two highest-ranking women working in Atlanta Public Schools, paid much less than top male executives, recently received big raises and back pay so the school system could avoid potential lawsuits over salary inequity.
The Atlanta Board of Education unanimously approved pay increases last month to narrow the $44,833 gap in average pay between the women and men who report directly to Superintendent Erroll Davis, according to documents obtained this week by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through open records requests.
Under the agreement, Deputy Superintendent Karen Waldon’s pay rose from $165,003 to $205,000, and Chief Strategy and Development Officer Alexis Kirijan’s salary increased from $148,732 to $190,000. They also received two years of back pay worth $89,944 for Waldon and $84,100 for Kirijan.
Waldon and Kirijan had previously earned about 78 percent of the average salaries of the six men on the school system’s senior staff, a figure that mirrors the nationwide pay gap between women and men. Across the country, women’s median earnings are 77 percent of men’s, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
“We wanted to make sure we are treating all our employees equitably, and those steps are designed to do that,” said Board of Education Chairman Courtney English.
Waldon oversees Atlanta’s 105 schools and learning centers, and Kirijan is responsible for designing strategies, regulations and projects to meet the school system’s academic goals. Waldon has been with APS since August 2011, and Kirijan has been there since 2008.
The board’s written settlement agreements with Waldon and Kirijan prevented the possibility of lawsuits. The agreements include a clause requiring Waldon, Kirijan and Atlanta Public Schools not to discuss the case.
By Mark Niesse