Teachers in Gilbert's Higley Unified School District will receive $350 more next year after the district board approved new contracts Tuesday.
With a 5-0 vote, the board approved certified contracts for teachers, school psychologists, speech pathologists and other personnel.
In addition, a .4 percent increase - for 435 teachers, 27 certified administrative positions and 23 classified administrative staff - was approved. That increase is designed to offset the jump in required employee constributions to the Arizona State Retirement System for the new fiscal year, which starts July 1, said Superintendent Denise Birdwell.
“This increase in our teacher salaries ensures Higley Unified School District remains competitive with surrounding districts in hiring and retaining outstanding teachers who have a significant positive impact on our students and their learning,” Birdwell said in a release.
The governing board Tuesday also approved 53 administrator contracts by a 4-1 vote, with new board member Jake Hoffman casting the dissenting vote.
The administrator contracts approved Tuesday include school prinicipals, assistant principals and district department directors.
The classified administrator salary schedule in Higley begins at $50,980. Executive directors can earn as much $105,575.
The superintendent salary is set separately from the administrative staff.
Hoffman told the board he believed the district needs to make cuts to administrator salaries to keep costs lower. But board president Denise Standage noted that the district needs to keep the best leaders it can, justifying their salaries.
The base salary for a first-year teacher at Higley Unified School District is $35,000. Teachers also receive $2,000 from Proposition 301 fund monies and Arizona State Trust Land revenues. Teachers can also receive about $2,400 in performance pay through state Prop. 301, a voter-initiative passed in 2000 to raise education funding in the state.
The governing board is expected to discuss and vote on 75 other teacher contracts at a later meeting. The board will consider contract terms for approximately 500 classified staff at a meeting May 7.
An estimated 1,100 employees work for the Higley district, which has a $52 million maintenance and operations budget.
The district is still working to finalize its budget for next school year, which begins July 1. It must be approved prior to July 15. The Higley board set aside a special board meeting June 11 to discuss the budget.
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