No Word On Teacher Raises

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Even though some of the state's teachers are planning family budgets around pay increases, Payson teachers do not know how much, or if, they will receive a boost in pay next school year.

The mystery remains because Payson Unified School District administrators have remained tight-lipped since Governor Janet Napolitano signed into law two weeks ago a budget that gives public schools $100 million for teacher raises and to offset a mandatory increase in retirement costs.

Associate Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Sylvester said she was not certain how much of the $100 million PUSD would receive, and Superintendent Sue Myers said the district had asked for an attorney general's opinion as to whether the money could be doled out this school year.

But Mesa Education Association Organizational Consultant Will Moore said many districts around the state are currently in the process of distributing the new money to teachers and classified employees.

"The money is there, and (schools) should know roughly how much they have," he said. Moore also said Mesa did not ask for an attorney general's opinion because there was no need for it.

"The governor and the Legislature meant for it to be spent this year."

Myers maintains the district needs the AG's opinion because there are two schools of thought on how, and when, to use the money.

"We've been told ‘no' because it would be a gift of public funds and teachers have already signed their contracts," she said. "We've also been told ‘yes' but they'll have to do something for it, like in-services."

Myers also said there is an option to "wait until next year and have it ready to use, but the school board hasn't decided anything."

In Mesa schools, administrators have determined the district will receive about $2.3 million for teacher raises and are discussing what possible raises will be given.

Sylvester said she cannot make public how much Payson will receive for teacher salaries until the amount is verified by the state's auditor general.

Sylvester did say there has been an increase, to four percent, from the mandatory two percent yearly increases in state funding for public education.

Records show Payson has a base support level of $3,205.63 per pupil, which would mean the district is in line to receive about $500,000 for teacher raises.

Last spring, teachers received a 2-percent increase in salary, which, in effect, offset the 1.78-percent increase in retirement costs.

Myers said she is hoping the decision on how and when to spend, or save, the budget increase should be made by the July 10 school board meeting.

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