YUHSD OKs employee compensation plan, adds teachers
In order to help retain current employees and also to help curb growing class sizes, the Yuma Union High School District governing board approved the employee compensation package for 2013-2014 which will provide a bump in employees' base salary and also add seven new teachers to the district for next year.
All YUHSD employees employed by the district prior to April 1, 2013, will receive an increase of 2 percent of their individual base salary plus $300 during the course of the upcoming school year.
Superintendent Toni Badone said that while the base salary for teachers was increased in the fall of 2008 to $30,000; mid year cuts enacted by the Arizona Legislature in 2009 forced the district to freeze base salaries and reduce expenditures in all other areas of the budget.
“Even though we didn't go backwards in base salary we also didn't go forwards either, and so it's really important that we are able to honor them and to grow our staff and make sure people want to stay with us,” she said.
Badone added that also due to cuts, there is not a single employee in the district that's not currently doing two to three times the amount of work that they were previously doing.
“People who've made sacrifices these past four years have been our own employees,” she said.
While cuts began with the administration in 2009 and worked their way down to the classroom level last, Badone said that they wanted to make sure they worked backwards and that teachers were added at campuses first as Prop 301 funds became available. She noted that the addition, which was recommended to be added by the Prop 301 committee, helps to best serve the district's No. 1 goal of making sure that every student is college- and career-ready after graduation from high school; something that's hard to do with increasing class sizes.
“Our class sizes are too big generally across the board... So thanks to the Prop 301 committee's decision, we've put seven teachers right at the top of the list... That's not a whole ton of teachers, but it's better than cuts.”
Also thanks to recommendations made by the Prop 301 committee, which is made up of teachers and staff, the seven new teachers will be added throughout the district as well as five technology data coach positions filled by current teachers and 10 extra workdays for the six current dropout prevention specialists.
The district will also be including a supplemental Unified Sports Liaison, a project manager to implement online learning for the district as well as other technical initiatives, a small school principal for Vista Alternative High School to help alleviate the jobs of the current principal Lisa Anderson (who is also the special education and career and technical education director for the district), as well as a campus groundskeeper, a campus custodian and a warehouse assistant split with Yuma Elementary School District 1.
Director of financial services Dianne Cordery noted that the district has been able to provide a bump in pay and additional positions while still staying within their budget's means.
“In order to invest in our district, I believe we need to invest further into our people,” said Badone, who noted that compared to other union high school districts across the state, YUHSD is low in terms of the amount of their Maintenance and Operation budget spent on salaries and benefits. While in the past it was as high as 82 percent, the district is currently spending a little over 72 percent on salaries and benefits, she said.
Also at the board meeting, Cordery stated that the budget outlook for next year looks similar to the current year.
She noted that federal grants are the exception to that outlook, as they could see cuts as high as 20 percent.
“But we're ready for that, we've had salaries that have been in federal grants and we've moved them out and replaced them with things that we can cut if we need to. We should be fine with those cuts – you're never fine – but we at least have a plan that shouldn't affect any classroom or teachers or staff.”
Cordery said that while insurance for YUHSD employees will not increase for their dependents, Arizona State Retirement is increasing for both employees and employers by .4 percent and the Alternate Contribution Rate for ARS retirees is increasing also from 4.32 to 4.6 percent.