Brian Chilson
IT’S THE PRINCIPLE: Central High Principal Nancy Rousseau is paid less than the new principal at Southwest.

Longtime Central High Principal Nancy Rousseau has filed a request for a salary adjustment with the Little Rock School District, citing a $33,667 discrepancy between her pay and that of George Maxey, hired in December as principal of the LRSD’s Southwest High School.

On a document submitted to the district March 25, Rousseau checked a box saying the reason for her request was “to correct an internal inequity where one or more other District positions, that have substantially the same duties and responsibilities and require equal skills and effort, now have substantially different pay rates.”

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Maxey’s job offer, made Dec. 15, 2023, set his salary and other compensation at $170,747.

Rousseau’s contract with the district sets her salary and other compensation at $137,080.

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Attorney and former LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus is representing Rousseau. In a letter attached to her March 25 request, Kurrus requested a hearing with the Little Rock School District’s Compensation Equity Review Committee.

Members of that committee, all LRSD employees, are Shawn Burgess, chief human resources and compliance officer; Chief Finance Officer Kelsey Bailey; Athletics Director John Daniels; HR Director Robert Robinson; and Jordan Eason, director of employee relations and benefits. The committee submits recommendations to the superintendent. Its meetings are not open to the public.

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In his letter to committee members, Kurrus noted that Rousseau is earning about 80 cents per Maxey’s dollar.

“Ms. Rousseau’s duties are substantially the same, or more arduous, than the duties of Mr. Maxey, yet Mr. Maxey and she have substantially different pay rates. This is an internal inequity that should be remedied by this Committee and Superintendent Wright,” he wrote.

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Kurrus also noted Rousseau’s lengthy tenure with the district.

“Ms. Rousseau has been employed by the Little Rock School District (“LRSD”) continuously for 38 years, with 31 years of experience as an administrator. She has been the principal at Central High School for approximately 22 years,” he wrote.

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Maxey came to the district from Florida in January, after an 11-year hiatus from working in public schools. Kurrus argues in his letter that Rousseau’s successful track record, as well as the fact that Central High serves a larger student body, means she should earn more than Maxey.

“She is entitled to be compensated at a substantially higher rate than someone who is new to the district, has not been in education for over 11 years, and is unproven as a district employee,” Kurrus wrote.

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Little Rock School District spokeswoman Pamela Smith declined to weigh in. “Unfortunately, because it is a personnel matter, we will not be able to comment right now,” she said by email Friday.

Maxey was hired as an “executive turnaround principal” to lead Southwest High School, where leadership turnover has been high.

Maxey’s hire caused some controversy among educators and community members who said there should have been more input from staff and parents, and that Maxey was a newcomer unfamiliar with the culture of the school and community.