Board ap­proves pay hikes

Fayet­teville teach­ers re­ceive boost to $45,000 per year

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

FAYET­TEVILLE — Be­gin­ning teacher pay in the School Dis­trict is set to rise above $45,000 a year, fol­low­ing a 6-0 School Board vote Thurs­day night.

Pay raises ap­proved for teach­ers, hourly em­ploy­ees and dis­trict ad­min­is­tra­tors are sub­ject to a vote of all of the dis­trict’s nearly 1,500 em­ploy­ees, as re­quired by state law, Su­per­in­ten­dent Matthew Wendt said.

School Board Pres­i­dent Justin Eich­mann said, “I’m happy we can pro­vide it.”

Wendt rec­om­mended a $3,000 in­crease to base salaries for all cer­ti­fied teach­ing staff and a new wage salary sched­ule and an av­er­age 3.5 per­cent raise for clas­si­fied staff, in­clud­ing bus driv­ers, cooks, cus­to­di­ans and ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tants.

The su­per­in­ten­dent also asked for the enough money to pro­vide a 3.5 per­cent pay in­crease for all ad­min­is­tra­tors, though raises for ad­min­is­tra­tors will vary and will be based on per­for­mance, Wendt said.

“Per­for­mance will drive ad­min­is­tra­tor salaries in Fayet­teville School Dis­trict,” Wendt said. “I’m a big be­liever in per­for­mance. I’m a big be­liever in set­ting goals. When those goals are met, I’m a big be­liever we ought to re­ward them fi­nan­cially.”

Con­cerns about pay has ranked as one of the top is­sues for staff since Wendt be­came su­per­in­ten­dent in July 2016, he said. The pro­pos­als in­volved the work of the dis­trict’s per­son­nel poli­cies com­mit­tees for clas­si­fied staff and for cer­ti­fied staff.”

“Find­ing a teacher is a com­pet­i­tive process,” Wendt said. “Fayet­teville is not a step­ping stone. We’re a des­ti­na­tion. We ought to act like a des­ti­na­tion. Part of that is the salary and wage ben­e­fit for our em­ploy­ees.”

The raises ap­proved would be in ad­di­tion to the an­nual “step” in­creases in pay teach­ers re­ceive each year for gains in ex­pe­ri­ence and ed­u­ca­tion. The board pre­vi­ously ap­proved raises to the salary sched­ule in 2008 and 2015.

The in­crease will take the salary for a be­gin­ning teacher with a bach­e­lor’s de­gree and no ex­pe­ri­ence from $42,310 to $45,310, Wendt said. The top pay for a teacher with a doc­tor­ate and 30 years of ex­pe­ri­ence would in­crease from $71,176 to $74,176.

Fayet­teville is the fourth largest dis­trict in Ben­ton and Wash­ing­ton coun­ties. An­nual pay for teach­ers in Fayet­teville has been sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars less than what teach­ers have been paid in Ben­tonville, Rogers and Spring­dale.

Teacher salaries have been an on­go­ing topic of con­ver­sa­tion with ques­tions about when the dis­trict would get closer to the salaries of the other large Northwest Arkansas dis­tricts, said Claire Gar­rett, who was pres­i­dent of the Per­son­nel Poli­cies Com­mit­tee for cer­ti­fied staff dur­ing the 2016-17 school year.

“That’s a huge step to­ward get­ting us closer to them,” said Gar­rett, who is no longer on the Per­son­nel Poli­cies Com­mit­tee since be­com­ing an as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal at Root Ele­men­tary School.

Gar­rett, who was part of a team over­see­ing spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams in schools, chooses to work in Fayet­teville be­cause the dis­trict is a good fit for her. The pay is a greater con­sid­er­a­tion for others, she said.

“We’re show­ing that we’re try­ing to get there,” she said. “It helps re­cruit the best and that’s what we want. We want the best teach­ers teach­ing our kids.”

The Per­son­nel Poli­cies Com­mit­tee for clas­si­fied staff spent hours de­vel­op­ing a new salary sched­ule that will be based on hourly rates in­stead of an­nual pay, said Chris­tine Wilken, pres­i­dent of the com­mit­tee.

The new salary sched­ule pro­vides more pay as hourly em­ploy­ees earn cer­ti­fi­ca­tions or re­ceive ad­di­tional train­ing.

“It val­ues our em­ploy­ees,” Wilken said. “It makes them feel like they want to do bet­ter.”

Pay in­creases will to­tal $8 mil­lion for the 2017-18, Wendt has said. The ad­di­tional raises ap­proved Thurs­day will to­tal $3.6 mil­lion, with $2.2 mil­lion needed for in­creases for teach­ers, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from the dis­trict.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Laura Amos, a third-grade teacher at As­bell Ele­men­tary School, ar­ranges books Thurs­day in her class­room in Fayet­teville. Amos taught fourth grade at Grace Hill Ele­men­tary School in Rogers last year.

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Kristin Fusco, a sec­ond-grade teacher at As­bell Ele­men­tary School, pins up a cal­en­dar Thurs­day in her class­room in Fayet­teville. Fusco was ac­com­pa­nied by her son Sam, 8, as she did the work.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.