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5:24 AM Thu, Nov. 15th

PUSD employees to gets raises, but not as much as they want

PRESCOTT – A step plus 2.25 percent district wide means that about three-fourths of the staff and teachers at Prescott Unified School District (PUSD) will make 5.25 percent more next year than they do this year, Superintendent Kevin Kapp said.

District administrators' salaries will increase by about 5.6 percent and Kapp's salary will increase by just less than 5 percent to $84,000.

The district Governing Board unanimously approved a step plus 2.25 percent "raise" for the 2004-05 school year, but some teachers who spoke at the board's meeting Tuesday night said that because of the state-mandated increase in the number of days next school year, the "raise" is actually partially compensation.

That increase, as well as a new administrative salary schedule, were part of a $1.1 million package the district's Interest-Based Negotiations Committee (IBNC) came up with using what Business Services Director Renee Raskin termed "new money."

That money includes 2.5 percent from the state, student growth money, tuition from out-of-district students who attend PUSD schools, as well as carry-forwards from the 2003-04 budget.

The board approved spending $350,000 on a salary scale step for all eligible PUSD staff plus $409,000 on the 2.25 percent for all PUSD employees. Also, it approved a one-time cost of $20,000 in putting administrators (except the superintendent) on a new salary schedule (which doesn't yet include the assistant superintendent's salary, but will).

According to a board briefing, the administrative schedule, which the board approved Tuesday, will "establish a reasonable and appropriate salary schedule for certified administrators" in the district. Old salary schedules for certain administrators did not allow compensation for professional growth or length of service.

The new salary schedule does, because it consists of 12 steps rather than the previous five. Raskin explained that placing administrators on this schedule cost the district $20,000 for the first year because first the district gave the step, then the 2.25 percent raise – then fit the administrators into the schedule.

Administrators whose adjusted salaries fell between two steps then had their salaries bumped up to the next closest step, Raskin said. Like the teacher salary schedule, the board briefing says, the administrator salary schedule's increments are 3 percent in each direction – professional growth and experience.

Some teachers at the meeting argued that the district shouldn't spend money on an expensive salary schedule when it consistently hasn't been able to give teachers raises each year.

The IBNC used the remaining money to pay for a new high school economics teacher's salary and to move several teachers' salaries from growth money to the permanent maintenance and operations budget.

Although all PUSD salaries still fall well below the state and national average, Kapp said, the salary increase that will apply during the 2004-05 school year is the largest teachers have received since 1991.

Contact the reporter at heller@prescottaz.com