Steamboat school board votes to give teachers a 4.5% pay raise |

Steamboat school board votes to give teachers a 4.5% pay raise

The Steamboat Springs Board of Education approved a 4.5% increase in teacher pay and a 5.5% increase in pay for classified staff.
Laura Meerkatz

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Springs Board of Education unanimously approved pay raises for teachers and staff for the 2019-20 school year as negotiated over recent months by the district’s collective bargaining team.

Teachers will receive a 4.5 percent increase in pay, while classified staff will receive a 5.5 percent boost.

“We worked diligently this year to approve a package that feels appropriate given the state’s current funding of education,” Steamboat Springs Education Association President Jessica Reagon said in a written statement. “Our CBT package passed with staff voting 93.5% in favor of negotiated changes to policies, a new benefits package and compensation.”

This year’s process was “relatively smooth,” said Dierdre Boyd, the association’s executive board member and high school association representative, in an emailed response.

“We were able to clean up some policy language, in particular providing more reimbursement for any staff who pursue professional development opportunities on their own,” Boyd wrote. “We were also able to agree on a percentage salary/wage increase for licensed and classified support staff that will somewhat address the soaring cost of living in the valley.”

However, at Monday’s meeting Boyd told the board the pay increases are only a “stop gap measure to help teachers right now.” She urged them to pursue an additional mill levy in November that would start teachers at an annual salary of $50,000 and provide an hourly pay increase for classified staff. Boyd said teacher retainment and recruitment is the most pressing issue facing the district and needs a long-term solution.

”We are all aware that we desperately need a mill levy dedicated solely to staff salaries in order to even approach a living wage for our hardworking and highly qualified teachers and staff,” Boyd wrote following the meeting.

Dozens of teachers have given testimonials before the board in recent weeks about their struggles to make ends meet on the district’s current pay scale.

At Monday’s meeting, board member Kelly Latterman acknowledged that teacher salaries in Colorado are on the low end of the country’s averages.

A 2018 study from the Education Law Center ranked Colorado dead last in the competitiveness of its teacher salaries, and according to The National Education Association’s annual ranking of the states, Colorado is in 30th place for teacher pay in 2016.

Latterman said the district’s strength is in its high quality teachers, and she expressed concern at losing some if salaries aren’t addressed.

“We hope the voters of Steamboat Springs will support the value that staff in our school district provides our community,” Reagon wrote.

The board will be holding a special meeting Wednesday, June 5, to discuss the November bond, including “potential mill levy overrides to address operational costs of a new school and staff compensation. The board’s goal is to have all decisions related to 2019 funding measures made by June 17.”

The Steamboat Springs Education Association has requested a mill levy for teacher and staff pay increases be separate from a mill levy override for expenses related to the proposed new school

The school board’s next regular meeting will be held on Monday, June 3, during which they will make a decision on whether to build a new facility for kindergarten to fourth grade or kindergarten to eighth grade on their Steamboat II property.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

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