Mesa Public Schools teachers, assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other district employees will all get raises starting in the fall – and a bonus if they stick around.
Teachers on salary will receive 2 percent increases.
Hourly staff will get a raise of $1 per hour.
And all employees will receive a $3,000 “retention stipend for both their work this year and their continuing work into next year,” said Assistant Superintendent Scott Thompson.
Mesa Association of School Administrators members also will receive a 2 percent increase. For Thompson, that means a raise from $170,119 to $173,521. Associate Superintendent Holly Williams’ salary will increase from $175,895 to $179,412.
With the safety net of $247 million in federal stimulus funds, the board felt comfortable in approving the raises despite a sizable budget deficit until the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds are received.
The board unanimously approved the increases. Board members Jenny Richardson and Joe O’Reilly did not attend the meeting with excused absences.
“I want to express my appreciation for all of our educators. This has been a year of building the airplane while we are flying it,” said Lara Ellingson, a new board member.
“I wish we could do more,” she added.
District leaders and employee groups met for a year before hashing out final Employee Compensation Plan recommendations.
“I appreciate everything you do to make the lives of our children great,” said board member Kiana Sears, speaking to district employees in the audience and beyond. “We appreciate you more than we can say in words or monetary ... I just say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ We couldn’t do this without you.”
Marcie Hutchinson thanked leadership groups. “Our intention was always to honor the service of all of our employees. Particularly during this challenging year.”
Josh Buckley, president of the Mesa Education Association and a social studies teacher at Red Mountain High School, said, “This compensation has been months and months of work.”
“This is a district that has gone above and beyond what was provided for us by the state,” he continued. “We’ve been able to show educators across the district that they are supported … It makes me proud.”
The district’s website shows the average annual teacher’s salary of $46,436 in 2018 has gone up to the current average of $55,826.
Hutchinson thanked Buckley and other leaders. “Josh, the board wants to thank you for your effective leadership,” she said before Buckley received a round of applause.
She also praised Frank Hunter, who represents bus drivers and other hourly “classified” staff members. “He’s relentless in making sure every kid has a successful education,” she said.
“For anyone to say this is a difficult year - you know what it was like. Our staff has taken on every challenge while always staying student centered,” Hunter said, adding the raises will help the district recruit for open positions.
“Most important, this will benefit kids,” said Hunter, fighting back tears.