Bentonville School Board weighs raises
Teachers may get pay boost in fall
BENTONVILLE — Administrators are studying giving teachers more than a 1 percent raise during the fall semester.
A recommendation for raises will go to the School Board in October, Janet Schwanhausser, the district’s executive director of finance, told the School Board on Monday at its monthly planning session.
“We’ve been asking administration to figure out how to get that done,” School Board President Travis Riggs said.
In the past, the district provided teachers raises with money the district receives from the state for growing enrollment, Riggs said. That money has gone toward opening buildings and hiring more teachers.
West High School opened for the 2016-17 school year, and Osage Creek Elementary School and Creekside Middle School open Monday.
“We’re starting to get ahead,” Riggs said.
Schwanhausser has developed a long-term budget building in teacher raises, Riggs said.
The School Board last approved teacher raises in the 2014-15 school year, which provided a 1.27 percent increase, Schwanhausser said.
A 1 percent raise is built into the budget for 2017-18 but it hasn’t been added to the salary schedule, Schwanhausser said. Schwanhausser said plans for a one-time raise for 2017-18 retroactive to July 1.
Teachers will receive a lump sum paycheck and then paychecks going forward will include the approved raise.
The district received $3.3 million in state money for growth that intentionally wasn’t included in the 2016-17 budget, Schwanhausser said. She wants to see if the district maintains its growth before deciding on how much of the growth money to put toward raises. The 2017-18 budget already includes $1.27 million for a 1 percent raise. A 1.5 percent raise would cost an additional $635,000, while a 3.5 percent raise would cost $3.18 million more than already budgeted, according to information Schwanhausser provided the board.
Salary is a concern for employees because of rises in the cost-of-living, Superintendent Debbie Jones said. Even though the district is among the state’s highest paying districts, Jones has put a priority on maintaining competitive pay, she said.
The district’s staff within the past year developed a 10-year construction plan and a five-year financial plan, Jones said. The five-year financial plan budgets a 1 percent raise for staff every other year. The raise is in addition to the annual “step” increases built into the salary schedule.