Teachers, staff get raises | SteamboatToday.com

Teachers, staff get raises

Severe-needs aide Marsha Davidson works with first-grader David Temorez at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Thursday morning. The Steamboat Springs School Board voted Monday to raise all staff salaries to the 2006-07 mean salary level.
John F. Russell

— Citing a promise made to voters and school district employees, the Steamboat Springs School Board unanimously approved a revised certified and support staff salary schedule Monday.

All certified and support staff employees – including teachers, aides, bus drivers and others – who were not being paid at the 2006-07 mean salary level received an immediate pay raise as a result of the new salary schedule. Those salary increases are retroactive to January and will begin to appear on February’s paychecks.

The 2006-07 mean salary was calculated by comparing Steamboat’s salaries to those made by teachers and staff in school districts in Summit, Aspen, Cherry Creek, Douglas County, Cheyenne Mountain, Boulder Valley, Academy 20, Thompson and Roaring Fork. Those districts are of comparable size, demographics and performance levels to the Steamboat Springs School District.

The increase in pay is a result of Referendum 3C, which district voters passed in November to help the district generate an additional $600,000 in revenue this year for salary increases and to attract and retain quality staff.

The amount of money generated by 3C will increase annually through 2015, when it will cap at $800,000.

Steamboat Springs Education Association President Brad Kindred questioned the accuracy of the pay raises.

“How (the district is) calculating the mean is where the questions are coming from,” Kindred said. “We are wondering what the mean really means. As a mathematician, I know I can make numbers look pretty much any way I want them to look.”

The list of salaries paid by the nine comparable school districts was compiled by a third-party firm agreed upon by the district’s Collaborative Bargaining Team.

Steamboat’s entry-level certified staff moved from a starting salary of $31,382 to $32,101, indicating a 2.2 percent increase. Teachers with a master’s degree received a 3 percent salary increase, from $58,120 to $59,943. Kindred said the approved salary increases for the staff members with master’s degrees plus 15 or 30 hours of additional course credits, and who have worked for the district for three to seven years, noticed little increase in their pay. That group includes many certified staff in the district, Kindred said.

Entry-level teachers and those who have been with the district for five years or less received a larger pay increase, he said.

The largest salary increase was a 6 percent increase for certified staff at the exit level – or highest level – on the salary schedule. The increase creates the potential for qualified teachers to earn as much as $71,094.

“It’s a heck of a lot better than we had,” Kindred said. “We are making progress, but it’s a slow, tedious process.”

Support staff also received a pay increase, except for those who already were paid at or above the 2006-07 mean.

Custodians’ pay increased from $11.14 to $11.62 an hour on the first step of the salary schedule. Severe-needs aides received a pay increase of $0.85 an hour.

Despite the unanimous approval, some School Board members are not satisfied with the revised salary schedule.

Board member Jeff Troeger, who has expressed concerns about how much the district pays its support staff, said the high number of resignations, particularly from severe-needs aides, must be addressed.

“We should be putting our emphasis on people who directly work with kids,” Troeger said during Monday’s School Board meeting. “Every single month, we see people resigning and people moving on. The reason we like to pat ourselves on the back is because they are going to bigger and better things. I think an awful lot of it is because we don’t pay diddly squat.

“I’m going to vote for (the adjusted salary schedule), but in the future, I think we have to start looking at job descriptions. : I feel pretty strongly about this. I think we can do better with people who deal directly with kids.”

Of the $600,000 the mill levy override will generate this year, the district spent an estimated $268,255 to bring current staff salaries to the mean. That amount is about $59,000 more than what district officials predicted it would cost before the election.

The $331,745 in remaining funds will be used to keep salaries competitive in the future and to fund ways to attract and retain quality staff, which also was promised to voters and staff, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

Kindred said the district’s Collaborative Bargaining Team will try to define “attract and retain” in the coming months.

“We are really behind the eight ball because we have been of the attitude that we live in this beautiful community, so everyone wants to come to Steamboat, but it’s becoming less and less true because of cost of living,” Kindred said. “We are struggling with trying to be competitive and fair.”

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