Higley USD classified staff pay lags behind market

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Higley USD is only paying its classified staff employees about 30% of their market value, according to district officials.

Human Resources Executive Director Mum Martens told the governing board at its May 14 meeting that the figure was part of the initial findings of a compensation study HUSD joined with nine other nearby school districts, including Gilbert Public Schools and Chandler USD.

“Honestly, that wasn’t the surprise,” Martens told the board about the market value figure. “In the bigger picture of what it means, it’s a bigger amount for us to climb.”

The vendor the districts are working with in the study gave HUSD a proposed compensation schedule that would increase the cost of classified employees’ salaries by about $950,000 annually.

Martens called the number “scary” and said the district is looking at options to mitigate the costs while staying competitive in keeping the employees. The district has about 525 classified employee positions.

Martens will return with a proposal for the board at its June 14 meeting.

Other actions

• The district approved a sports marketing agreement with Sponsor Burst, a high school sports sponsorship company with a cloud-based platform. Board member Greg Wojtovich voted in dissent, expressing concern about giving away naming rights that could erode schools’ identities and passively endorsing products. However, Support Services Assistant Superintendent Michael Fowler said the district would retain the right to reject particular sponsors.

• The board unanimously approved meal prices for the 2019-20 school year. Full-cost breakfast will cost students $2, while lunches would be $2.85 for elementary school students, $3.25 for junior high students and $3.40 for high school students. Students approved for reduced-price meals would pay $0.30 for breakfast and $0.40 for lunch at all levels. The board also approved Chartwells at the food service management company.

• McCarthy Building Company was selected to do the construction of Williams Field High School’s 5,400-square-foot weight room, which is expected to cost $1.08 million.

• Centennial Elementary School was selected as the district’s winner in its innovation challenge project, and the school was awarded $5,000. Centennial’s future engineers program gave innovative STEM challenges to students on each grade level. Honorable mentions and $2,500 went to Bridges Elementary, Sossaman Middle and Williams Field High schools. Educational Services Assistant Superintendent Warren Shillingburg created the competition to foster innovative learning environments.

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Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.
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