The base salary for new teachers coming into the St. Clair R-XIII School District will be $31,000 for the 2012-2013 academic year after board of education members unanimously approved the increase during its April meeting.

The current certified base salary is $30,650, information from the local school district showed. The increase amounts to about 1 percent.

“If you remember, last month we had a discussion about all staff receiving some kind of salary increase,” R-XIII Superintendent Mike Murphy said during the April meeting. “I recommend we raise the base rate of pay to $31,000. This will create a salary schedule that will be more competitive to the area.”

Murphy estimated the increase will cost the district $78,875 for the upcoming budget year.

The superintendent stressed, however, that the increase will not modify the teacher salary schedule and will not include adding a step to the bottom of that schedule.

“An increase to the base salary is not considered a structural change,” he said.

The certified base salary hike approved on April 12 comes after the school board approved a one-step salary movement for all certified and classified employees in March. Last month’s additional amount of money that will be put toward raising salaries for the next academic year totaled an estimated $188,000. That amount will provide about a 1.5 percent pay increase to employees.

All R-XIII staff members are under a salary freeze for the current school year. During earlier board discussions, it was mentioned that the salary freeze might have to continue because of the state’s current funding situation.

However, at the beginning of March, in order to keep Murphy in the St. Clair district, the board conducted an emergency meeting and voted to increase his salary in each of the next three years. It was decided that Murphy, who currently earns just over $127,000 annually, will get $140,000 next year, $145,000 in 2013-2014 and $150,000 in 2014-2015.

The special March 5 board of education meeting was called specifically to discuss Murphy’s future with the local school district. On March 3, the R-XIII superintendent said he had interviewed with and was offered the superintendent’s job at a district in Arkansas.

Because he is under contract with R-XIII, board members had to call the special meeting to discuss whether they would allow Murphy out of his current deal. After a nearly 2-1/2-hour executive session, a motion was made to extend the new, three-year contract to Murphy. It passed unanimously.

During that emergency meeting, board President Dave Berkel said it was decided then that because Murphy was extended an offer that includes a pay hike, all district employees will receive some kind of salary increase.

Also in March, in order to help offset the salary increases, the board of education approved cutting proposed capital expenses for the upcoming academic year about in half from $1.085 million to $530,635.

“We’re shifting money so more of it is going to salaries instead of capital,” Murphy said during the April board meeting.