Washington High School: Excellence Everyday

All Washington School District employees will be getting a raise for the 2017-18 school year.

The school board Wednesday night unanimously approved an average 3.1 percent raise for all employees. The raise will impact both teachers and staff.

Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said she’s pleased the district could offer raises for the coming year.

“It is our desire to attract and retain high-quality staff and our salary schedule plays a big part in our abilities to do that,” she said.

The new teacher schedule will add $400 to the base, eliminate the top step and add one step to the bottom of the schedule in all columns beyond a bachelor’s degree. The goal is to reward teachers who pursue degrees beyond a bachelor’s.

“Most people do not realize that most teachers work towards advanced degrees at their own expense to maintain their certification,” VanLeer said. “This is why teacher salary schedules reflect more income as certifications and higher levels of education are achieved.

“Ultimately, we want our staff to be well-educated as they work with students to prepare them for their college or career paths,” she said.

In June, the board approved adding one step and a lateral movement on the salary schedule, but stopped short of increasing the base salary or giving any additional pay raises until its assessed valuation data was known.

At Wednesday night’s meeting, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Brendan Mahon said the district is in good enough shape financially to offer raises across the board because of its ability to get better health insurance rates.

Mahon said all salary schedules, including support staff, will see pay increases. The amount will vary depending on where they fall on the schedule.

“For some, it’s just a couple of pennies, because those are hourly rates, but those rates are being adjusted to try and reflect that 3.1, or as close as we could get,” he said.

Under the approved schedule, the lowest step will pay teachers $36,500. The highest salary on the schedule is $74,706.

Coaching Stipends

Additionally, the board approved an increase in stipends for athletic coaches.

VanLeer said it has been more than 10 years since the stipends were last changed and officials felt it was time to make adjustments. She said the district looked at comparable schools in the Gateway Athletic Conference and determined changes were needed.

“Our coaches put in a ton of time and many times sacrifice time with their own families to influence and guide our students,” she said. “We slightly adjusted the percentage in which they are paid, taking into account factors such as length of season, athlete participation and overall responsibility of the various roles.”

The coaching stipends are now broken down into six tiers.

Mahon said the district had issues with assistant coaches in some sports making more than head coaches in others. He said the goal was to fix that and enhance the overall benefit for coaches.

The total cost increase is about $35,000 for coaches.

“I am glad we were able to make these adjustments, as we have been putting it off and it always dropped to the bottom of our priority list,” VanLeer said. “Considering we struggle to fill these positions at times, I am glad we have more competitive stipends for our coaches, many of whom treat it as if they have two full-time jobs.”