Potential salary increases for support and administrative staff in the Summit School District could have long-term financial impacts, according to school board discussions Thursday.
During the meeting, school board members asked CFO Kara Drake to include salary increases for support staff and administration in the proposed budget for 2022-23, which the board is planning. to approve in June. In total, the increases would add $590,402 to district spending next school year.
The idea of the salary increase is to ensure that the Summit School District is competitive with similar districts in Colorado. The district worked with a consulting firm to conduct a market analysis earlier this year, which compared salaries to seven other districts: Eagle, Roaring Fork, Aspen, Steamboat, Englewood, Boulder and Westminster.
The survey combines the salaries of various positions into an average, which is considered the “market rate”. Eighty percent of support staff, such as bus drivers, paraprofessionals, janitors, social workers, secretaries, and cafeteria workers, met the market rate, along with 94% of administrators.
However, the school district aims to be in the 75th percentile of the market rate. According to data from Drake, only 33% of support staff and 21% of administrators achieved this goal.
The $590,402 increase would bring all district support staff and administrators to the 75th percentile. The salary increase would not apply to teachers.
A majority of board members were in favor of the salary increase, as it will likely improve recruitment and retention efforts. This year, the district has suffered from staffing issues, with many classrooms not having the support staff needed to get through each day.
The board has already approved a 4.8% increase in district salaries across the board to improve retention.
“All of our groups that are not teachers, they all add to our strategic plan and our mission: the academic and personal success of every student,” said Consuelo Redhorse, board member. “We need the whole team to be able to do that.”
Board Chair Kate Hudnut added that Summit County has seen companies, like Vail Resorts, raise wages, which is a sign that wage increases are needed across all industries.
“They don’t do this lightly,” she said. “We are going through an incredibly difficult time in our country, in our county and in our cities. Now is the time for us to step up.
Other council members felt that moving the district to meet the market rate would be too risky.
If passed in the current proposed budget for 2022-23, Drake estimated that the salary increase would leave the district with 10% of its savings earmarked for emergencies. This number would continue to decline over the next few years with only 4.3% of savings remaining in budget in the 2023-24 school year and 5.4% of savings in budget in the 2024 school year. -25.
Those estimates assume a 5% increase in revenue, which Drake says is a “pretty positive outlook” for the district over the years.
“In theory, heart and soul, I’m behind it all,” board member Chris Alleman said. “But when (Drake) put those numbers in, it’s scary. To go below 5% is a really scary number.
Alleman added that he would support the salary increase if the district could come up with a strategy to avoid depleting its reserves in the future. Board member Johanna Kugler agreed with Alleman, adding that future funding for state and federal schools cannot be predicted.
As of Thursday night, the district had 80 open positions on its hiring portal. Even with salary increases, the district may struggle to find people to fill the positions, Acting Superintendent Roy Crawford said.
“Don’t kid yourself that this will solve the problem,” Crawford said. “…It will definitely affirm the people who are there, in terms of retention. It’ll help attract, but it’s still gonna be an adventure, man.
Tuesday’s meeting was not an official vote on the budget. The board will make its final compensation decisions when discussing the 2022-23 budget in June.