Salary schedules, personnel focus of school board


Much-discussed salary schedules will again be on the docket tonight at the Maricopa Unified School District Governing Board meeting.

Superintendent Steve Chestnut will talk about the ongoing process with the board. No action will be taken.

Chestnut sent information to all staff Monday about the proposed compensation plan for certified and administrative employees. He is recommending a “stepless” salary schedule that several other Arizona districts have adopted.

The step schedule allowed employees to gain a vertical step for each time period of satisfactory work and a horizontal step for each level of education or training acquired. Chestnut said, with state cuts, most schools are unable to maintain the step schedule.

The stepless schedule would have the same base salary as is currently used. Then a formula lifted from the Mesa district will add to the base salary to compensate for experience ($500 per year) and credit hours ($65 per credit hour past a bachelor’s degree and $75 per credit hour past a master’s degree. There will be a $1,000 bonus for attaining a master’s degree and $1,000 for a doctorate.

In the example provided by MUSD, a teacher with a base salary of $34,507 and 10 years of experience might also have 45 credit hours of coursework resulting in a master’s degree. That would amount to a contract worth $43,432.

The initial plan caused some controversy because it applied only to new hires starting next school year. That opened the possibility of a new employee having a more lucrative contract than a current employee with the same education and experience.

The new proposal deals with that issue.

As worded now, if a current teacher would make more if he was a new hire, his contract is bumped up to the level of a new hire. Chestnut said that possibly could apply to 76 out of the district’s 300 certified employees. Moving them up to a “new hire” level would cost about $75,000.

Chestnut said the shifts range from $100 to $1,500.

He said the compensation plans will not result in higher salaries for administrators.

But “salary equalization” is only part of the cost of the new plan. The superintendent said they must also factor in an elementary gifted teacher, longevity bonus of all staff and a longevity bonus for certified staff whose salaries have been frozen for up to four years. The total cost is $395,000.

Chestnut will also discuss some cost-cutting measures during his presentation on the budget Wednesday.

Those cuts total $160,000. They include reductions in the health staff, replacing nurses with health assistants for a savings of $120,000. Paraprofessionals in preschool would be rearranged to cut $21,000. He said there could also be $11,000 in the Middle School Edmentum software contract savings and $8,000 in the Exceptional Student Services contracts.

He said the potential impact of the stepless salary schedule is hard to measure because the district “typically hires 50 certified employees” a year and their amount of experience and education is unknown.

The board has a list of eight employee resignations to approve at the meeting. They include Maricopa High School teachers Natasha Carr, Rachel Rubright and Pam Shuler, Santa Rosa Elementary teacher Shannon Boyland, Desert Wind Middle School teacher Binu Johnson, speech-language pathology assistant Janice Renfro, and food service workers Gina Bartlett and Delia Garcia.

***ADVERTISEMENT***New hires include food service substitutes Jerel Valenzuela, Mariah Anderson and Jackie Craig. Teaching substitute Rebecca Holub has been reclassified as an MHS teacher. Two certified renewals are Phillip Smith and Tracy Dicenzi.

Also at tonight's meeting, Maricopa Elementary School Principal Jennifer Robinson will present her school’s math and language arts progress, and the board may approve the new course catalogue for MHS.

The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the board room of the district office, 44150 W. Maricopa-Casa Grande Hwy.