Steamboat close on teacher pay

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Steamboat Springs School District teachers will receive salary step increases for the 2004-05 school year similar to the increases approved last month for administrators, district officials said.

Teachers and support staff also will receive competitive market salary adjustments, as is dictated by negotiated district policy.

The Steamboat Springs School Board likely will vote to approve the updated staff and support staff salary schedules in the next two months, Superintendent Donna Howell said Wednesday. Salary changes don't go into effect until September.

The School Board approved salary increases for district administrators at its June 21 meeting. Each administrator on the district's leadership team received an average step increase of 2.25 percent and a 1.87 percent competitive market adjustment. The salaries of three administrative positions -- middle school assistant principal, high school assistant principal and administrative assistant for human resources -- were determined to be below market value. Those employees will receive an additional 2 percent salary increase, Howell said.

Dale Mellor, director of operations and finance for the district, said eligible teachers will receive an average salary step increase of 2.25 percent next year. Per negotiated policy, all teachers will receive a competitive market adjustment increase of 1.88 percent minus 1 percent for a total market adjustment of 0.88 percent.

District support staff will receive an average step increase of 4 percent plus a competitive market adjustment of 2.18 percent minus 1 percent for a total market adjustment of 1.18 percent.

The competitive market adjustment for administrators also was decreased by 1 percent, Mellor said.

The district typically uses an outside firm to conduct salary surveys of 11 high-achieving and/or high-performing school districts similar to Steamboat's. The average salary percentage increase for those districts is compared to Steamboat salaries, and the difference becomes the competitive market adjustment.

According to the interim salary schedule approved in 2001, the competitive market adjustment determined through the survey will be decreased by 1 percent for Steamboat employees for the 2004-05 school year. This was agreed to because district employees were supposed to be working under the Knowledge and Skills Based Pay system, which would have included larger annual step increases than the traditional staff salary schedule, Steamboat Springs Education Association member Mike Smith said.

"I just hope the Board of Education realizes the minus 1 percent was only put in because we thought we'd be on the KSBP schedule by now," Smith said. A similar agreement in the negotiated policy resulted in the competitive market adjustment being decreased by 0.5 percent last year.

The three-year negotiated salary agreement ends this year. The district's collaborative bargaining team will begin work on a new agreement this fall.

The district anticipates spending more than $12 million in payroll next year.

During the past two years some community members have publicly suggested freezing administrative salaries in years the district is forced to cuts its budget.

Howell said freezing administrative salaries isn't a reasonable request. The district works to keep salary increase percentages equitable for all employees, including administrators, teachers and support staff. "There's a real value in treating employees equitably," Howell said.

Smith, a high school math teacher, said most district employees are pleased with the quality of administrators in the district. He hasn't heard any recent complaints about administrative salaries and he said he respects the district's effort to keep salary increase percentages relatively equal amongst its employees.

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