The board approved the increases April 15 along with other pay changes, such as raising the starting pay of first-year teachers and librarians to $50,250, adjusting compensation based on years of service and increasing salaries for employees whose compensation falls below average market rates.
“One percent is not very much,” acting Superintendent of Schools Daniel Presley said. “... We’re trying to keep pace with health care costs, and we want to stay competitive in the market, but it’s a drop in the bucket.”
The total cost of these changes is about $4.6 million or 1.4% of current costs for compensation. The increase is included in the proposed 2021-22, which the board is slated to approve in June.
Last year, the board approved a 2% salary increase and all employees received a one-time $500 bonus in January at a cost of $3.4 million.
Approval of the compensation changes did not come without discussion of the longevity of financial support for future pay increases without additional funding support from the state. The bulk of pay raises and changes will be funded by eliminating vacant positions, mostly at the district’s central office, for a savings of $3 million, according to district officials.
“The only way we can really sustain raises long term is increased funding from the state. There comes a point where there’s just no more staff to cut,” Trustee Cory Vessa said.
Vessa also relayed her concerns over not offering larger increases to compensation for employees with more tenure. She said she would like to see the district address that at some point.
“When you get to the higher years [salaries] don’t change much from year to year,” she said. “The general concept is that we want to reward just as much if not more our more experienced teachers.”