A plan to increase beginning teacher salaries by $3,700 and eliminate five Payson School District staff positions was introduced Thursday at a meeting of the Payson Superintendent's Advisory Council.
The proposal is designed to make the district's entry-level teaching salaries competitive with entry-level salaries in districts across the state.
"The board has put money into its first goal, which is to recruit and to retain quality teachers," Payson School Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said after the meeting. "Our present salary schedule is far below the state average, which I'd say is near $26,000. We've been sitting about $3,000 below that. In order to be able to recruit and keep quality teachers, we've got to get closer to our fellow districts.
"In short," Weissenfels said, "the board put the money where its goals are and financed what's most important to them. It was a very unusual and courageous step for a board, but what it was most concerned about is the question, 'What's going to impact the classroom the most?'"
The plan also provides for smaller raises some as low as $400 or less per year for established Payson teachers, but the plan would make them eligible for stipends and bonuses if it's approved Monday by the Payson School Board during its regularly scheduled meeting.
Currently, teachers receive raises based on a years-of-service "step" schedule that would be eliminated if the new plan is approved.
To accommodate the pay increase, the plan calls for the elimination of five existing positions: maintenance supervisor, maintenance technician, transportation supervisor, director of personnel and a business office secretary.
"These were people who (gave) very little direct service to the kids," Weissenfels said. "Sure, they serviced the kids just like everyone out there does but not directly, like a teacher, an aide or a principal."
The proposal also shifts budget money out of operational areas that will have the smallest impacts on students and their education such as non-site supplies and staff development at the district level, postage, curriculum development, legal and automobile fees, as well as travel expenses for board administrators and the athletic department, which would come from other sources if the plan is adopted.