NOLA Public Schools' West Bank headquarters.

The Orleans Parish School Board unanimously approved a $300,000 contract for newly hired superintendent, Avis Williams, at its monthly board meeting Thursday night. 

Williams’ four-year contract will begin on July 11 and run through mid-July in 2026. Williams can also work for up to 20 days as a consultant before her contract begins, paid daily at a rate based on her approved salary, as the district works to transition to a new chief. 

When her contract goes into effect, she’ll also be able to earn up to an additional $20,000 annually for meeting certain goals. The four incentive areas concern performance in district facilities, finance, accountability and truancy.

Williams currently serves as the superintendent of Selma City Schools in Alabama. In Selma, she was earning about $150,000 per year as of 2021, according to an annual state report. The Selma district has 10 schools compared to about 80 charter schools in the NOLA Public Schools district.

In her new contract, she’ll receive $12,000 in relocation expenses and $2,500 per month for temporary housing for up to three months. 

The board heard public comment from one person, Ken Ducote, the head of the Greater New Orleans Collaborative of Charter Schools. He defended the contract’s salary offer, which is higher than current NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Henderson Lewis’ salary.

“I had not intended to make any public comments about this until I saw public discussion about the compensation package that you offered,” he began. “And the Virgo in me would not let it go without putting into the public record a few details that I think need to be put in.”

He said comparisons to the state Department of Education superintendent’s salary of $285,000 were irrelevant because he was hired initially on a month-to-month contract, and it was more than a year ago. He also noted there have been cost of living increases since that contract and Lewis’ contract were inked. 

“It does not compare of course (to the salaries of) to any of the university personnel, sports personnel, or even the head of the local zoo. You have a reasonable compensation package,” he said.

“I agree with the way you approach it and complement you. Please let Dr. Williams know, if in fact there are a lot of crustaceans who want to pull her back into the crab basket please know that we will help her cover her back.”

Marta Jewson

Marta Jewson covers education in New Orleans for The Lens. She began her reporting career covering charter schools for The Lens and helped found the hyperlocal news site Mid-City Messenger. Jewson returned...