The Pulaski County Special School Board provides teachers with a base salary of $ 40,000; employee vote needed to finalize the plan
Beginning teachers working in the Pulaski County Special School District are expected to see a salary increase of nearly $ 5,400 following the school board approval on Tuesday of a favorably weighted compensation plan for early-stage employees careers.
The board voted unanimously for the compensation proposal which must now be approved by teachers in the district for it to take effect for this school year – retroactively to July 1.
Also on Tuesday, the board of directors voted 4-2 to maintain for an additional 60 days the requirement that students and employees must wear masks inside schools to defend against covid-19.
The compensation plan, if approved by employees, will increase the salary of a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree from $ 34,617 to $ 40,000.
Teachers in grades 2 through 10 with a bachelor’s degree would receive increases of $ 1,300 to $ 4,969 this school year, with those with less experience receiving the largest increases.
Early career employees who have earned college credits above their bachelor’s through master’s levels are also in line for increases of $ 1,000 to $ 4,300 this year.
Long-term teachers and those with university credits above the master’s level would receive increases of less or far less than $ 1,000 for this year. A teacher with 10 years of experience and a master’s degree plus an additional 15 college credit hours would receive an increase of $ 524.92 at an annual rate of $ 53,016.
The district was motivated to draft the salary scale – in consultation with its staff policy committee made up of teachers and administrators – by state law that requires the minimum salary for teachers across the state or $ 36,000 by 2022.
Brenda Robinson, chair of the district’s certified personnel policies committee, cited the state’s salary law and noted the school board’s desire to be more competitive with other districts in central Arkansas in terms of starting salaries as a means of attracting and retaining teachers.
âDuring our discussions, we asked how we can move forward because we want to get ahead of the curve. We have fallen a bit behindâ in surrounding districts, Robinson told the board. . “We are proposing tonight to go ahead and raise the starting salary to $ 40,000. That way we will be ahead of the game. I know we still have teaching positions available and that money attracts. “
Robinson acknowledged that the salary schedule changes focus on new teachers, while seasoned teachers like her won’t see significant increases.
“We’ve been discussing how we can revamp the whole salary scale, but for now we wanted to tackle that part because we heard you loud and clear … that you want a salary scale that will help. to recruit and retain teachers, âsaid Robinson.
School board president Linda Remele and board member Eli Keller praised Robinson and the staff policy committee for the hard work in coming up with a salary plan that gives newer teachers more money. Remele said she believes the plan not only meets the requirements of the law, but it will help the profession and do the right thing for young teachers.
Board member Stephen Delaney said the district was in an “arms race” for teachers from other districts, including the nearby Little Rock School District, which has a property tax rate. of 46.4 million higher than the rate of 40.7 million of Pulaski County District.
The salary plan – coupled with the district’s “terrific” benefits package – takes the Pulaski Special District from the bottom of the rankings of some 15 central Arkansas districts to the middle of the pack or more, Delaney said. The plan won’t put the district in the top spot, but it feels very good about it, he said.
The Pulaski County Special District pays an employee’s health insurance $ 276.89 per month, which works out to $ 3,323 per year, he said.
Emry Chesterfield, who represents the district’s support services workers, told the board that while he doesn’t dispute that teachers are getting raises, unauthorized employees want bonuses in recognition of their work.
Regarding the mask requirement for students and employees, Superintendent Charles McNulty recommended that the existing requirement remain in place and be reviewed in December. The district and the community have seen a slight increase in cases over the past two weeks, he said.
Board member Brian Maune said he would prefer a system in which schools in the Generalized District could relax or tighten mask requirements based on their campus-specific covid-19 data. Some schools go weeks without any cases, apparently making them candidates to make masks optional, he said.
Deputy Superintendent Janice Warren and Director of Communications Jessica Duff informed council that a frequently changing district-wide requirement or different requirements in different parts of the district would be difficult to communicate to parents and students.
The Pulaski County Special District, which has 12,000 students, had 39 active cases of covid-19, the second highest number among school districts in the state, according to a report released Monday by the Department of Health of Arkansas. This week, the district had to switch to online education for kindergarten and fourth graders at Harris Elementary after more than 50 people had to be quarantined due to exposure to covid-19.
An audience member addressed the school board at the start of Tuesday’s meeting to say that an ongoing mask mandate puts the district at risk of prosecution, forcing the district to use its resources for legal fees .
Board members Maune and Keller voted against retaining the mask’s mandate. Board members Remele, Delaney, Tina Ward and Shelby Thomas voted to keep him. Council member Lindsey Gustafson was absent.