New salary schedule approved by Re-2 School Board
Following approval by voters in November to increase Garfield School District Re-2 taxes by $4.9 million annually to boost teacher and staff pay, the school board earlier this month approved a new salary schedule designed to better address staffing concerns.
The mill levy override question that was on the Nov. 6 ballot for voters to decide was intended to address the recruitment, training and retention of quality teachers and staff.
Re-2 Director of Communications Theresa Hamilton explained the salary disparity didn’t necessarily start at the entry level positions for teachers, but rather it was for the more experienced staffers, especially ones who had earned a master’s degree, where the district was no longer competitive.
She said she’d heard secondhand from teachers who said they could be making as much as $10,000 more at neighboring districts. That made it difficult for the district to retain quality staff each year, Hamilton said.
Overall staff turnover was 23 percent in 2017-18, and for teachers alone it was just over 19 percent, she said.
“Salary and benefits were a high response on why people are leaving,” Hamilton said. “The thing that we hear repeatedly through staff surveys is they would love to stay, but would make more money elsewhere.”
She said the new salary schedule, called the steps-and-lanes model, provides teachers and staff a clear path through their salary increases year-to-year, and will not be as impacted by state funding fluctuations as the old model.
As Hamilton explained, in the old model, because raises were given according to a percentage that could fluctuate year over year, and salary from teacher to teacher could be dramatically different depending on what year he or she joined the district. Experience factored very little into the overall number, she said.
Now, education and experience are the main determinants for salary increases in the Re-2 under the new model, as teachers can see exactly when and by how much their salary will increase based on their education background and how many years they’ve been in the district.
Without the mill levy increase, the district wouldn’t have been able to switch to the new model, explained Hamilton, as it will serve as the district’s salary schedule template for years to come.
While the salary schedule will be implemented by February 2019, during the Dec. 4 school board meeting member Brock Hedberg recommended the board approve the new schedule, but he admitted there was still work to be done.
Hedberg said he attended several meetings of Collaborative Solutions, the district’s negotiating body, where the schedule was proposed and discussed. He explained there were still groups and certain categories that still did not feel represented as well in the new salary schedule. He said it should be the goal of CS and the board to ensure those individuals feel they are being appreciated.
Hamilton went on to say that specifically librarians, certified counselors and special service providers are among three categories the board and CS will have to work with to ensure they are better represented in the new schedule.