Education salaries grow $8M in Louisiana’s ed department

Melinda Deslatte:

Salary costs have jumped in Louisiana’s education department, even as the number of full-time employees dropped, and the number of people drawing six-figure paychecks has more than doubled in the two years since Paul Pastorek took charge of the agency.
Payroll at the Department of Education grew by $8 million — 21 percent — after Pastorek became state superintendent of education in 2007, an Associated Press review of salary data shows.
Pastorek says the pay is needed to attract and keep the best talent. But with huge state budget shortfalls predicted for several years, the salary boosts have irked some lawmakers, already bristling about Pastorek’s own hefty pay increases.
“I just don’t, along with many of my colleagues, feel like we can put a lot of money into administration so this guy can go out and pay big salaries and not (put the money) into the classroom for the kids,” said state Rep. Jim Fannin, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
A New Orleans lawyer and former general counsel for NASA, Pastorek had been on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for eight years when he was named superintendent in March 2007. He replaced Cecil Picard, who died after a decade in the post.
Salaries have grown markedly since then.