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Fort Smith Schools approves teacher pay raise



The Fort Smith School Board approved two proposals at a special meeting Monday night, including a pay raise for every teacher. The first proposal approval increases the base salary of certified teachers from $38,500 to $44,000 a year. It also adds a salary “step” to salary schedules — giving more funds to teachers who have been with the district 21 years or more.”That’s for any veteran teacher that has got an experience of 21 all the way through 50 years,” Fort Smith Schools Chief Financial Officer Charles Warren told 40/29 News. “They got an additional $675 based upon the restructure and the revision that we came back and did tonight.”The revised certified salary schedule provides an average increase in pay of $3,471.81.The second proposal the board approved also added a salary step 22 for classified employees, such as custodial and cafeteria staff, teachers aides and maintenance staff.The classified salary schedule provides an average increase in pay of $438.24.After hearing feedback from the initial salary schedule proposal in the April 18 school board meeting, multiple school board members were concerned. They echoed critiques from community members who said the proposals are insulting to veteran teachers in the district.There was a period of public comment before the salary schedule proposals. “We need new teachers, and they need to be fairly compensated, but not at the expense of our veterans,” Heather Aguilar, an 18-year teacher in the Fort Smith School District, said.Christopher Rink, a former teacher and administrator who has three children currently in the Fort Smith School District, said he asks the board to look at where money is going in regards to office operations. “Positions without importance to the district eat at the potential salary increases,” Rink said. 40/29 News spoke to a Northside High School teacher after the meeting. “The concerns were the fact that the younger teachers were getting a huge, a much larger raise than the older teachers were — veteran teachers were,” Wendy Peer said. “And we wanted an equitable raise. That’s all we’re asking for is an equitable amount across all steps, all years. That was not fixed.”Peer said the proposal Monday night was better than the original proposal, though. “Now we’re just looking forward to seeing how we can support our district in finding more efficient ways that maybe we can find more teacher pay next year down the line.”CFO Warren said the element of market correction makes some of the changes seem like they are harder on teachers who are used to the advantages of the prior structure. “What I would hope that they would remember is that they have been at the higher scale than a lot of their peers here in the River Valley,” Warren said. “And this is just a way to correct the salary schedule so that their colleagues that are new to the district in the first of their 10 years are also getting to take advantage of the advantages they’ve had for the last 10 or 15 years.”

The Fort Smith School Board approved two proposals at a special meeting Monday night, including a pay raise for every teacher.

The first proposal approval increases the base salary of certified teachers from $38,500 to $44,000 a year. It also adds a salary “step” to salary schedules — giving more funds to teachers who have been with the district 21 years or more.

“That’s for any veteran teacher that has got an experience of 21 all the way through 50 years,” Fort Smith Schools Chief Financial Officer Charles Warren told 40/29 News. “They got an additional $675 based upon the restructure and the revision that we came back and did tonight.”

The revised certified salary schedule provides an average increase in pay of $3,471.81.

The second proposal the board approved also added a salary step 22 for classified employees, such as custodial and cafeteria staff, teachers aides and maintenance staff.

The classified salary schedule provides an average increase in pay of $438.24.

After hearing feedback from the initial salary schedule proposal in the April 18 school board meeting, multiple school board members were concerned. They echoed critiques from community members who said the proposals are insulting to veteran teachers in the district.

There was a period of public comment before the salary schedule proposals.

“We need new teachers, and they need to be fairly compensated, but not at the expense of our veterans,” Heather Aguilar, an 18-year teacher in the Fort Smith School District, said.

Christopher Rink, a former teacher and administrator who has three children currently in the Fort Smith School District, said he asks the board to look at where money is going in regards to office operations.

“Positions without importance to the district eat at the potential salary increases,” Rink said.

40/29 News spoke to a Northside High School teacher after the meeting.

“The concerns were the fact that the younger teachers were getting a huge, a much larger raise than the older teachers were — veteran teachers were,” Wendy Peer said. “And we wanted an equitable raise. That’s all we’re asking for is an equitable amount across all steps, all years. That was not fixed.”

Peer said the proposal Monday night was better than the original proposal, though.

“Now we’re just looking forward to seeing how we can support our district in finding more efficient ways that maybe we can find more teacher pay next year down the line.”

CFO Warren said the element of market correction makes some of the changes seem like they are harder on teachers who are used to the advantages of the prior structure.

“What I would hope that they would remember is that they have been at the higher scale than a lot of their peers here in the River Valley,” Warren said. “And this is just a way to correct the salary schedule so that their colleagues that are new to the district in the first of their 10 years are also getting to take advantage of the advantages they’ve had for the last 10 or 15 years.”



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