Steamboat Springs School District plans to change how pay raises are calculated for top employees

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Editor's note: This story has been changed to show the salaries and benefits of the school district's administrators and directors have increased by 18 percent since 2010, not 23 percent. The district estimates the increase will be 23 percent by the end of next school year.

The Steamboat Springs School Board on Wednesday night welcomed a plan to change the way annual pay raises are calculated for the school district's directors and administrators.

For years, the salary increases for the 14 leading positions in the district have been determined by how much of a pay increase teachers and classified staff receive.

Under the “me too” clause, if teachers' salaries collectively were increased by 2 percent in a given year, so was the pay of the district's principals.

A new matrix system proposed by Superintendent Brad Meeks and Finance Director Dale Mellor would change that by implementing a new salary schedule.

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, each director and administrator position would be ranked based individually on five criteria ranging from its impact on the district to the amount of experience it requires.

The district's high school principal, for example, would be rated just under the superintendent on the top of the scale with a B rating while the district's grant writer would be ranked at the bottom with an H rating.

The ratings would determine the salary schedules and could change year to year based on added or reduced job responsibilities and the experience level of the person in the position.

Mellor said that while the district has a solid system of determining what pay a director or administrator should receive upon his or her hiring, it lacks the ability to systematically determine how much of a raise he or she should receive or not receive annually.

“We've been looking for a way to make it more equitable for everyone and make it logical and understandable,” Mellor said about the salary schedule.

He said one of the inequities of the current system surfaced shortly after the district made the decision about two years ago to stop offering directors and administrators a family health insurance plan.

The change resulted in one of the district's current elementary school principals earning about $13,000 less than the other principal despite having a nearly identical amount of experience for the position.

District officials said the new system would work to solve that kind of inequity in the pay scale.

“Depending on whether you had that insurance or not, the change started to create some real inequities in the system,” Meeks said. “What we're proposing to move to is something that takes a little bit more of an internal analysis of these internal positions and how they relate to each other.”

He said the new matrix system would be similar to ones used in some of the school districts in which he previously served as an administrator, and it effectively would remove the salaries of the leading positions from the negotiations that occur annually between the district and its teachers and classified staff.

"It seems very fair," School Board President Brian Kelly said about the proposed changes to the salary schedule.

The board Monday will be asked to renew the contracts of its administrators and directors.

Board members Denise Connelly and Rebecca Williams said they want to ensure any changes to the salary schedules of administrators and directors do not result in a disproportionate amount of raises compared to what is offered to other district employees in the future.

An early estimate of the plan's financial estimate on director and administrator salaries shows a few employees could see no increase in 2014 while others could see increases ranging from $2,000 to $8,000.

Officials said those numbers are subject to change.

According to data from the district, the salaries of administrators and directors in Steamboat have increased by 18 percent percent since the 2010-11 school year.

The district estimates they will have increased by 228,434, or 23 percent, by the end of next school year.

The figures take into account the amount employees receive for their health insurance.

The proposed changes to the salary schedules come less than a year after the School Board approved a two-year pay raise plan for its employees.

In June, the School Board voted unanimously to give all district employees a 1 percent salary increase this school year and give all qualified certified and classified staff members step increases through next school year.

The agreement also raised the salaries of about 50 teachers with bachelor’s degrees and 50 support staff members, including bus drivers, custodians and teachers’ aides, to match the average pay being offered for their job classifications at nine comparable school districts across Colorado.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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