Wendt de­tails plan for raises in Fayet­teville

School Board to con­sider rec­om­men­da­tion July 27

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRENDA BERNET

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.

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