The board of trustees approved a 2% pay raise for all employees—except the superintendent—which will take effect Nov. 1. The source of funding comes from the district’s general fund balance, and the board’s budget will remain balanced, officials said.
The 2% is calculated by using the midpoint salary, not the individual’s salary, Chief Financial Officer Kris Lynn said. The total cost to the district will be $800,000.
The purpose of the raise is twofold: to boost morale and to retain employees, President Jim Dossey said. With educators teaching remotely and in person; administrators pivoting to shut down schools and then, to safely reopen them; and support staff changing protocols on everything from cleaning to transporting students, officials said they felt a pay raise—already long overdue—was needed more than ever.
“Our employees are working hard, and they are looking for some hope in a very, very challenging year,” Superintendent Heath Morrison said.
Morrison, who took office this summer, said that in his meetings with parents and the community, the district has always been praised for its employees but has been told it needs to provide better compensation.
The raise comes on the heels of the board balancing its budget, which was adopted June 30. Balancing the budget was a months-long endeavor that required cuts from nearly everywhere, Dossey said. After balancing the budget, the board of trustees had publicly announced they intended to have the highest paid-staff in the area, although a timeline has not been established.
“When you hired me, there were three primary focuses you asked me to look at,” Morrison said. “One was to safely reopen schools. ... [The second was] to balance the budget. ... The third area was to, as quickly as we could, address the compensation issue.”
Morrison said it would have been easy to push this third task to a later date—after all, the district was in the middle of a pandemic and facing unprecedented times, he said.
“But easy isn’t the best way to go,” he said. “We have to protect the most important resources we have, which is our employees.”
Morrison said the district hopes to provide additional raises in the future.
During the board meeting, trustee Gary Hammons said he did not feel this was an appropriate time to provide a raise, given that the district had just balanced its budget.
Trustee Matt Fuller acknowledged there was a bit of a risk but said he felt it was a risk worth taking.
Dossey said he understood it was a difficult decision but said the benefits, such as providing a pay raise for all employees not just teachers, made it the right thing to do.
“There is a cost for not doing it,” Dossey said. “What is the cost to losing teachers and having to bring new teachers in?”
Trustee Lina Porten asked Lynn what his recommendations were; Lynn said the financial impact on the district was worth the benefits.
“This is the right time to show our employees we do care,” he said.
When responding to a question posed by Fuller, Lynn said he did not know how this raise would rank MISD’s compensation compared to neighboring districts. The board ultimately voted in favor of the raise, with Hammons opposed.