Gilbert Public Schools employees to get raises, retention stipends next school year

Gilbert Public Schools governing board
The Gilbert Public Schools governing board discusses employee pay raises at its March 29 business meeting. (Screen capture from YouTube)

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board discusses employee pay raises at its March 29 business meeting. (Screen capture from YouTube)

The Gilbert Public Schools governing board unanimously approved March 29 proposed raises for all levels of employees plus a retention stipend for next school year.

The raises start by taking 3% stipends the employees received this school year and making them part of the employees’ ongoing base pay, then giving them 2% raises from the adjusted base pay.

Additionally, employees will receive a retention stipend of $1,500 for full-time employees that will be paid out in two increments over the year as long as the employee remains with GPS for the year.

Finally, the district will buy back some sick time from employees, with the level of buyback determined by what role the employee fills for the district.

“I’m really excited and grateful that we can pay our staff and teachers and our admin competitive wages,” Board President Lori Wood said. “That is one of the most important things we can do with the funding we have to show our appreciation for their hard work and loyalty, and all they have done these past couple years especially.”

In presenting the pay raises, Business Services Assistant Superintendent Bonnie Betz gave an initial projection of the district’s maintenance and operations budget for next fiscal year as $282.86 million, about $4.88 million less than this year’s revised budget. That budget assumed a loss of about 400 students and the passage of Gov. Doug Ducey’s proposed state budget.

However, the loss of funding came from a projected $7.1 million in budget balance carry forward, the rollover funding from one year to the next that acts as a reserve. Betz said the district projects that funding to be $35 million, conservatively.

Additionally, Betz said the district is projecting the unrestricted capital budget to be $23.7 million, up from the current $22.48 million.

The maintenance and operations budget accounts for the day-to-day operations of the district, including most salaries. Unrestricted capital pays for items, such as buildings, maintenance, buses, textbooks and technology.

Gilbert High Air Force JROTC

During the public comment portion, a series of parents and students asked the district to maintain the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp program at Gilbert High School, which they said is being shut down. They cited the program’s success, the values it teaches and its support of students.

Superintendent Shane McCord said the district does not have any intention of shutting down the program so long as it has an instructor. He said the district will address any instructor stipend discrepancy, a charge some of the speakers made.

He also said there is an enrollment requirement, but that during the pandemic, the military has not been as stringent about it.

Board Member Bill Parker, who is retired from the military and was once involved in Air Force JROTC programs, thanked the speakers for their support of the program and offered to meet with them separately. He also said when JROTC programs have been shut down in the district in the past, the military—not the district—did it because of enrollment issues.

Other items

The board appointed Jodi Smith as principal of Greenfield Junior High beginning next school year.

Betz said the district expects to close on the sale of the former Neely Traditional Academy property to the town of Gilbert later this year. She said the district can expect to receive about $6.5 million-$6.7 million in proceeds after costs, which can then be used on capital needs.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.