To end the constant turnover of aides in the Payson Unified School District, the school board Monday approved a creative solution.
The district will reduce its workforce of 39 educational aides by six and use the savings to provide raises to ensure every aide makes at least $10 an hour.
Superintendent Ron Hitchcock dreamed up the idea after four or five aides quit or transferred to other jobs.
He suspects the district’s low hourly rate has been a revolving door for aides, to the detriment of students and teachers.
Just halfway through the school year, the district has already had to hire at least 40 different aides, he said.
Because the board can’t do much to adjust the overall budget, Hitchcock proposed relying on attrition to produce savings to provide raises for those who remain.
While the district has roughly 70 aides, the plan would affect only the 39 aide positions funded through the district’s maintenance and operations (M&O) budget.
That means aide salaries funded through the Title I, II, III, etc., programs would not see a raise — at least for now.
The board agreed to revisit the pay schedule.
“Everyone in the district is underpaid in my opinion, but the only population that we have that is large enough to be able to take the size of the workforce in that area and reduce it without reducing the overall expenditures (is aides),” Hitchcock said.
Board member Barbara Shepherd asked if eliminating six aide positions would impact students.
Hitchcock said it should not because “obviously we wouldn’t do anything that would put students or programs at risk.”
He added, “There are positions that should somebody leave, you could do a combination by assignment.”
Hitchcock said they would analyze each vacancy on a case-by-case basis before deciding whether to refill the job.
“If we want to stop that perpetual change for the year that we are in, than we can stop a moment and say, ‘you know when person A and B leave, if we put these people together maybe we don’t have to fill that’ ... so you can float the boat hire for all of the aides in that category that are making less than $10 an hour,” he said.
Board president Barbara Underwood said she was for the pay increase and for looking at the salary schedule in general.
Board member Matt Van Camp agreed.
“This is a small bite, but I think we need to take it,” he said. “Ron is being creative in bringing up at least the lowest paid aides. We would be shooting ourselves in the foot not taking this out-of-the box look for our staff.”
In other school news, the board approved hiring a sign language aide.
A student moved into the district that needs an interpreter, Hitchcock said. It is the first time the district has needed a sign language aide.
The board approved hiring William Camp for the position. The salary range for the job is between $15,000 and $25,000.