The Dolores school board recently approved salary increases for all certified and classified staff members.
The move includes increases in certified and classified salary tables, and will be paid as an annual increases. In addition, certified staff members will receive a one-time bump of $1,200.
At the May 9 meeting, Superintendent Phil Kasper told board members salary increases are necessary for Dolores School District RE-4A to attract and retain good teachers and staff members.
“With this proposal, we can stay competitive with Mancos, Cortez, and Dove Creek,” Kasper said.
Specifically, the proposal would have the district pay the full amount of health insurance premium increases, raise classified staff salaries by 90 cents per hour, increase certified staff salaries by 1.75%, and give a one-time raise of $1,200 to certified staff members.
No increase was included for extra-duty and coaching salaries or for current stipend amounts. Kasper also included in his calculations the dollars associated with step increases and decreases accompanying staff members’ promotions or departures.
On an individual level, a first-year classified staff member working a 168-day calendar would see a salary increase of $1,134, or a 7.75% increase.
A teacher completing his or her first year would see a total salary increase of $2,250.00, or about 7.15%. A breakdown of the first-year teacher’s salary increase would provide for:
An additional $550 from the 1.75% salary table bump (moving annual salary from $31,500 to $32,050).An extra $500 from moving up a step on the salary schedule.And a $1,200 returning contract stipend bonus.The total cost of the raises to the district will be $344,607.
The salary increases will be paid by $167,364 from the state’s per pupil revenue funding, $85,243 from the state’s Small Rural School Fund, and $92,000 – the cost of the 14.9% health insurance premium increase – from the district’s carry-forward budget surplus revenues.
Kasper said the only financial risk would be that the district might not meet the projected student enrollment count, which would lower how much state funding RE-4A receives.
“The district has lost a significant number of students over the past four to five years,” he said. “It’s not a secret.”
However, he pointed to this year’s enrollment count, which saw an additional six students since the October count – an improvement, and hopefully a sign that the district had stopped the “slide.”
Kasper said the district has not yet had to worry about competing with Durango public school salaries.
“But within your teacher ranks, it is well-known that all you have to do is drive 50 miles and you can get a $10,000 raise,” Kasper noted.
Health insurance premiums have gone up significantly this year for schools throughout the area, district officials said. For now, the district is sticking with its current plan, and “crossing fingers” that next year’s rates will not rise, Kasper said.
If they do increase in the future, RE-4A will have to go out to bid for a new insurance provider.
Dolores board members voted unanimously for the raises.
“If we’re not competitive, the ripple effect is pretty grim,” said Board President Kay Phelps. “Because you lose quality teachers.”