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Dysart proposes pay raise, amount still not final

Posted 5/31/17

By Jennifer Jimenez

Independent Newsmedia

The Dysart Unified School District wrapped up the 2016-17 school year on May 24, but questions remain regarding teacher pay raises and the district’s …

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Dysart proposes pay raise, amount still not final

By Jennifer Jimenez
Independent Newsmedia

The Dysart Unified School District wrapped up the 2016-17 school year on May 24, but questions remain regarding teacher pay raises and the district’s 2017-18 budget.

Meet and confer sessions have already taken place. Representatives from the employee groups in the district were brought together to talk about any money available to use for pay raises.

DUSD Superintendent Dr. Gail Pletnick said the state will be giving the district a 1.3 percent increase in funds and said the district spoke with staff and will be recommending a 1.2 percent raise for certified teachers, classified staff, licensed and administrative employees.

“But keeping in mind when you look at things like the passage of Prop 206 which mandated an increase in hourly wage, that is going to be impacting us above and beyond what we have normally been discussing,” Dr. Pletnick said. “We talked about the fact that we are going to have to have reserves in there (the budget).”

Dr. Pletnick said Proposition 206 not only impacts people making minimum wage, whose salary will jump from $10 to $10.50, but the increase through this law impacts those that were at $10.50 at a higher level of responsibility.

Those employees are now going to have be adjusted for those wages as well. All of that will come in January 2018 because by law that is when the next raise takes place.

“This also impacts things like contracts for our maintenance and food services, because those contracts are now going to have to reflect those increases and we are going to have pay those employees who are serving our students in those areas,” Dr. Pletnick said.

In addition, Proposition 301 monies has to play a role as well. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas wants to hike up the state sales-tax to fund an 11 percent teacher pay raise.
She will have to take it to the voters to ask to permanently expand the Prop 301 sales tax to a full penny. Currently, the provision adds six-tenths of a cent to sales tax and will end in 2021.

Dr. Pletnick said any money Dysart receives from Prop 301 always goes to teacher pay. There are other options, however the district has consistently elected to give the raise to teachers.

“We did have an increase in what was collected so next year we will be passing that onto the eligible employees and that will be an additional $850 for those employees,” Dr. Pletnick said.

She said the recent bill passed in Arizona which legislatures are calling a raise, have raised some questions and concerns.

“We will have to come back to the board with clarification because right now it’s only in this year’s budget, promised to be in next year’s budget. But if we put that on the base pay for teachers, we are committing for really the rest of the time we have that employee,” Dr. Pletnick said. “So we are trying to get some clarification about that, but it will be an additional 1.06 percent for next year, in addition to the 1.2 percent in addition to the $850 extra for the 301 monies.”

Dr. Pletnick also said they are waiting to hear back on what the definition is of a teacher. She said librarians and CCNR are people who are teaching, but under the current definitions with 301, are not included. The district is waiting on the opinion of the Attorney General prior to proceeding.

“We have to know the answers to those questions before we can calculate the impact of those to the budget and then we can present it to you,” Dr. Pletnick said to the board.

Dysart Governing Board President Jennifer Tanner asked how long this waiting process can take. Jack Eaton, Executive Director Of Business Services for the district said on the morning of May 24 he was was told the attorney general’s office is hopeful to have answers hopefully by next week.

“There are several questions we have to wait until we get clarification on and we really can’t move forward with the budget til then,” Mr. Eaton said.

There were also some revisions to the memorandum of understanding with the Dysart Education Association for the upcoming school year. Some of the revisions included adding language to clarify appropriate ways to cover classes when a substitute is not available and clarification of the process used when teachers are surplus.

The board also approved the pay schedule for the extracurricular areas, which includes coaches, yearbook advisors and curriculum assignments and the administrative “C” and “D” contract language.

The board’s special meeting for self-assessment and future planning will be a workshop that was approved for July 19 in order to get some critical planning completed for the 2017-18 school year.