Sulphur Springs ISD Board of Trustees Tuesday approved pay increases for all district employees during a special meeting.
Sulphur Springs ISD Superintendent Michael Lamb asked the school board to consider approving a set pay increase for all SSISD teachers (and other employees on the same compensation plan, including nurses, librarians, counselors, testing coordinators and law enforcement officers) and a percentage increase for those on the five other compensation plans. The proposal was made as a means to retain current staff and become more competitive for recruitment purposes.
“We are basically saying at this point that there’s nothing more important than our people and doing this for our people. Yes, we may have to take a trip or two less, we may have to do without a few things here and there, but right now, it’s a commitment to people and this pay scale, and that’s our most important thing,” Lamb said. “We’ve still got a lot of positive things going our way.”
Lamb said administrators had hoped to have proposals to include at the April meeting, but at that time were still waiting on some information from experts, including tax values. The plan then was to present them at the regular May board meeting on the 9th, but after seeing information circulating about pay scales at other nearby or similar school districts they asked the board to convene a week earlier in this very competitive market. Administrators felt the need to have a compensation package with an increase from top to bottom for retention and recruitment purposes, Lamb noted.
Business Manager Sherry McGraw and Assistant Superintendent Josh Williams crunched number, taking into account a number of factors, including the need to be more competitive, balanced with staffing needs and financial resources.
Lamb said while it’s rare for salary increases to be presented for board approval before the budget process, but administrators feel confident that working from now until August they will be able to accommodate an increase for 2022-23 in a balanced budget. ESSAR funding which the district anticipates receiving for through the 2023-2024 school year will help offset some of the expenses.
“It is a bit of a risky move, particularly in this atmosphere, but it’s a risk we feel like we have to take under the circumstances to be competitive. It’s a tough time for all of you. Your businesses I think are facing these same things and decisions. We just think it’s an incredible time to commit to teachers in this way,” Lamb said, when asking the school board to approve the proposed compensation plans for district employees.
SSISD Trustee Leesa Toliver made a motion, which Board Vice President Craig Roberts seconded, to approve the compensation plans as presented. The board voted unanimously that teachers will receive $2,000 more in the 2022-2023 school year than during the 2021-2022 school year.
Under the current compensation package, teachers could look at the scale, see their number of years and expect a certain pay increase according to an established step scale. For the 2022-2023 school year, the increase will be a flat $2,000 over this year’s base salary for all teachers.
“This is everybody – all of the teachers are much better off this way,” Williams said of the flat $2,000 pay increase, which for the 2022-2023 school year will replace the current step pay schedule.
For instance, a first year teacher next year according to the 2021-2022 step pay scale for teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors and security personnel would expect to receive a $100 step increase, bumping it up to $45,100, and a teacher or librarian who is complete her/his eighth year as a teacher would expect a $500 pay increase during year nine. During the 2022-2023 school year, first year teachers would receive $47,000 and a ninth year nurse would receive $48,600. A 29-year teacher who this year receives a base salary of $59,600 would be receive $61,600 in the 2022-2023 school year. This will be for one year, not a new step scale.
“We are in transition, I want that to be clear,” Lamb said. “Our teachers have grown accustomed to looking at that scale and basically some form guaranty that says, ‘Oh I make this much this year. I’ll make this much next year,'” Lamb said. “Really, those intended to get you started, not all the time. So, just to be clear, for teachers this is a $2,000 raise.”
All other district employees will receive a pay increase of 2-5% in the coming year, the administrators noted. That includes educational aides, administrators and specialists, office staff and hourly workers
Compensation plans for district employees for the 2022-2023 school year are now currently available to view or download from the district website, https://www.ssisd.net. Select the Employment link, then click Compensation Plans to view the 13 page document.