School district approves raises

By: 
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

The cost of salaries in Weston County School District No. 1 will increase by $787,369.20 in the next school year after the board of trustees approved a slew of raises during two separate meetings. 

On May 4, the board approved salary increases for administrators and directors at a total cost, including benefits, of $146,473.20 a year, according to business manager Deb Sylte. During the board’s April 27 meeting, as previously reported, a total of $640,896 in raises were approved for certified and classified staff. Sylte maintained that it is important to remember that these numbers are projections.

These raises, according to Superintendent Brad LaCroix, will bring all of the district’s staff closer to the average pay in Wyoming for each position. He noted that the costs associated with the raises will be covered in part by funds saved by not replacing four retiring faculty members, three of whom are teachers (see “School District works to ‘right-size’ itself,” on page one of last week’s paper). 

At its most recent meeting, the board unanimously approved $6,000 raises for the food service director, community education director and data coordinator. With the raises, the food service director will make $42,000 a year, the community education director will make $67,007, and the data coordinator will make $41,197. All of the listed individual salaries do not include benefits.

Directors and managers — including the technology director, special education director, maintenance director, transportation director, business manager and curriculum coordinator — will all receive $8,000 raises. The total annual salary after the raise is $80,500 for the technology director, $79,000 for the special education director, $75,250 for the maintenance director, $59,500 for the transportation director, $98,750 for the business manager and $69,687.50 for the curriculum coordinator. 

The principals at each of the three schools in the district will receive $10,000 raises. According to LaCroix, both Newcastle High School Principal Bryce Hoffman and Newcastle Middle School Principal Tyler Bartlett currently make $73,250, over $21,000 less than the average pay for each of those positions in the state. 

Bartlett and Hoffman will now make $83,250 a year. Brandy Holmes, principal of Newcastle Elementary School, will make $87,750. 

The board also approved another $20,000 a year for LaCroix, bringing his salary to $146,750. 

As previously reported, the district approved a number of raises on April 27, including increasing teacher salaries by $3,500 a year.  Trustees also agreed to reimplement steps and lanes.

According to edweek.org, most school districts have “step and lane” salary schedules for teachers, specifying how much raises are worth. 

“Teachers earn a ‘step’ increase for each additional year of experience, with many teachers peaking with the highest ‘step’ at around age 55,” the website says. “Teachers can also earn more by having more education (those are the ‘lane’ increases). Some districts pay teachers holding a master’s or doctoral degree a premium, while others move teachers into a higher pay column when they earn a certain number of credit hours of professional development.”

This increase will raise the base teacher pay to $50,000, making the district one of the top-12 in the state for teacher pay, according to information provided by LaCroix. There are a total of 48 districts in the state. 

The total salary for each teacher will vary depending on their salary before the raise. According to the annual salary publication for the district, teachers earned between $46,000 and $64,000 a year before the raises. Sylte said the average salary for teachers during the 2021-22 school year was $53,200.

Next year, after the raises are implemented, the lowest-earning teacher will make $50,000 and the highest will make $67,350. 

An additional $1.70 an hour for classified staff was also approved by the board, and substitute teacher pay levels were also increased to $115 and $120, up from $85, $95 and $100 a day. 

The overall hope for the raises, LaCroix said, is to retain good personnel. He noted that it
also makes the district more enticing during recruitment situations. 

“If things have to change, we can recruit the best,” LaCroix said. “We are hoping to retain the best. We know there is a huge teacher shortage out there.”

He noted that there are currently 56 pages of school district positions openings on the Wyoming School Board Association website. 

 

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