By Susan Miller

Missourian Staff Writer

The starting pay for a beginning teacher in the Washington School District will increase to $34,100 next year under a new salary schedule approved by the school board Wednesday night.

Last year, a beginning teacher made about $32,950.

The board also agreed to compress the salary schedule. One additional staff workday, Aug. 16, has been added to the schedule as well.

Teachers in the district are paid on a schedule that takes into account continued education and years of service.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon said the new schedule has the endorsement of the district’s salary and benefits committee.

“I think negotiations went very well this year,” Mahon told the board. “This new schedule meets our goal of a more competitive entry level teachers salary and compressing the schedule.”

Mahon said pay raises for all other staff members are based on or equivalent to what the teachers get.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said every teacher will see an increase in their paycheck next year.

“It’s an average 3 percent increase, but can swing both ways depending on where a teacher falls on the schedule,” VanLeer said. “We don’t offer the highest pay in all of the counties the district falls in, but this new schedule does make us much more competitive in Franklin County and that was a priority for us.”

The district’s boundaries take in parts of three counties — Franklin, Warren and St. Charles.

VanLeer said condensing the schedule also has been a goal because Washington had more steps and columns on its schedule than most so it took a teacher longer to get to a competitive rate of pay.

The support staff in the district also will see pay increases, VanLeer said.

“We did a salary study of those employee groups last year and adjustments were made at that time,” she explained. “All support staff will get a raise; how much depends on their specific group.”

The superintendent said retaining and attracting quality teachers and staff is a major goal for the district.

“These pay increases are possible because we’ve really tightened up the budget. We made major cuts several years ago and streamlined operations to get us in the position to do this,” she noted.

“Another goal is to provide a 21st century learning environment with adequate classroom space, additional computers and other equipment. We’re not there yet and the failure of the bond issue puts us further behind in that area.

“It’s important for people to understand that salaries and capital projects come out of two separate parts of the budget,” she added.

The approximate impact to the budget for all salary increases next year is $500,000, which includes teachers, support staff and administrators. Some additional staff also is being hired next year which will impact the budget as well.