Staff has so far resisted recommending salary and benefits increases due to uncertainty surrounding the fiscal impact of the coronavirus, Superintendent Jeannie Stone said.
“We have to be mindful of the current economy, current unemployment rate and all of the factors that will go into the final decision for the board to make in terms of compensation,” Stone said at a recent board meeting.
RISD considers several factors when considering compensation changes, including competitiveness with nearby districts, the sustainability of the increase and the value of the change to employees, Stone said.
Each 1% raise costs the district $2.8 million, according to a May 14 presentation to the board. Last year, the district provided across-the-board raises of between 3.5% and 5%.
“We want to find the best, we want to reward the best and we want to keep the best,” Stone said.
Over the course of the past couple months, the board has heard a series of presentations on the proposed budget, which is scheduled for adoption in June. The second draft presented at the May 18 work session does not include raises; however, Stone said the district is evaluating its options, such as providing recurring, Teacher Retirement System-eligible raises, one-time compensation stipends or a combination of the two.
Members of the board emphasized the importance of ensuring that compensation increases are sustainable for years to come.
“I want to make sure that the decisions that we make today are going to reward and value and honor our teachers and our staff but not jeopardize our staff as we go into the next legislative session,” trustee Kim Caston said.
The upcoming school year’s budget is based on students being on campus; however, Stone said in a May 15 YouTube message that the district is considering a blended model of on-campus and remote learning.
“I feel in my gut this is where we may be headed,” Stone said in the video.
A public hearing and possible adoption of the budget are scheduled for June 8. However, if the budget is not ready to be adopted on that date, the board can postpone the vote until June 15, Stone said.
The tax rate will be voted on at the board’s Sept. 14 meeting. Tax bills are scheduled to be mailed to residents Oct. 1.