Wendt details plan for raises in Fayetteville
School Board to consider recommendation July 27
FAYETTEVILLE — Superintendent Matthew Wendt is recommending raising teacher pay by $3,000 and hourly salaries by an average of 3.5 percent, he told School Board members during a work session Thursday.
The School Board will consider the recommendation at the monthly meeting at 5 p.m. July 27.
“It’s been a point of interest for me and other board members for quite some time,” board President Justin Eichmann said. “This is a real exciting proposal. You want to do your due diligence in making sure we’re being financially responsible.”
Pay increases will total $8 million, Wendt said. That includes the annual raises built into district salary schedules as employees gain experience and increase their level of education.
The additional raises Wendt proposes will total $3.6 million, with $2.2 million needed for increases for teachers, according to information from the district. Raises for teachers would average 6 percent.
“Our proposed budget reflects paying our teachers for the academic achievement in Fayetteville,” Wendt said. “Teachers need to feel the raise.”
The proposal also is intended to make pay more competitive with the pay of other districts around the region, and for hourly employees, with University of Arkansas, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt, he said.
A beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience earns from $2,400 to $5,000 more in the Bentonville, Rogers and Springdale school districts, Wendt said.
“That’s without any district moving forward,” Wendt said. “By doing nothing we would fall further behind.”
The boost in teacher pay would take the salary for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience to $42,310 to $45,310. The top pay for a teacher with a doctorate and 30 years of experience would increase from $71,176 to $74,176.
Wendt is asking the School Board for a pool of money, about $200,000, to give raises to administrators, though their raises would be given based on evaluations and performance, he said. Employees
considered administrators range from entry-level administrators to associate superintendents, he said.
“I have no history of providing same percentage increase to every administrator,” he said.
Wendt would have the latitude to award raises or freeze pay, he said.
Wendt said has spent the past few months developing an administrative team.
“I don’t want to lose them,” he said.
The proposals are based on input from the district’s personnel policies committees for classified staff and for certified staff, Wendt said. Feedback from surveys of staff and conversations with teacher leaders and administrators is a desire for greater pay, he said.
School Board member Susan Heil asked Wendt whether his goal is to be competitive with beginning teacher salaries or with the salaries for teachers with master’s degrees and more experience.
Wendt said he hasn’t heard concerns about the salary schedule structure.
“Teachers want a raise, and they want to feel the raise,” Wendt said.
The School Board also spent time talking about the potential impact on the district’s reserve.
The preliminary budget projects $103.9 million in revenue for 2017-18 school year, revenue that accounts for growth of 100 students and increases in the district’s tax base, Wendt said. It also comes with the School Board committing to a maximum of $2 million coming out of the district’s reserve.
In 2016-17, the School Board approved a proposed budget with revenue totaling $100.2 million and spending $100.7 million. The district ended the year with $105.4 million in revenue and $106.7 million in expenses and transfers, ending the year with $13.7 million in reserve.
The preliminary budget for 2017-18 includes $106.5 million in expenses and an ending balance in June 2018 of $11.7 million, according to district documents.
The district is required to adopt a proposed budget for the new school year by Sept. 30, said Glenda Sullins, the district’s director of accounting.