Ottawa teachers received a pay boost Monday night, benefiting from a school funding measure passed by state legislators in April. The Board of Education approved pay increases for certified, classified and administrative staff.
Certified teaching staff will receive a 3.1 percent pay increase with a base salary of $40,155. The USD 290 administration will also receive a 3.1 percent increase. Classified staff get a pay increase of $.50 per hour.
In April, the state lawmakers passed a $500 million bill that meant area schools would set to receive over $100,000 this year in additional funding.
USD 290 superintendent Ryan Cobbs said the state funding helped with giving the district the ability to increase salary but there were other factors as well.
“That is certainly the biggest part of it but it also comes from quality accounting with our accounting and business department,” Cobbs said. “They find every spare cents that we have. The other part is we have had some retirees over the course of the last few years that have been able to move well across the salary schedule. So when those teachers retire, the cost differential between a new teacher coming into the profession and one with 30 years of experience is substantial. Now we lose a lot in terms of our staff and what we can provide for kids so its a double-edged sword.”
Cobbs said the district will not know exactly how much of an increase they will see and said declining enrollment will be a factor in that amount as well but he said being able to increase the salary structure will go along way toward retaining and adding quality staff.
Ottawa teachers were not the only ones to benefit from the increased funding.
Wellsville USD 289 teachers also will receive a pay increase with the additional funds. Certified teachers saw an increase of 3.2 percent. Salaried classified staff and returning administrators received a 3 percent increase with hourly-classified staff getting an additional $.50 per hour.
Teachers in the West Franklin school district also benefited from the funding bill. Superintendant Jerry Turner said last year they had additional funding and gave teachers an additional $500 on their base pay. This year, they added another $600 which came to 3.5 percent. That increase was then given across the district to all staff.
“For us, it’s directly related to funding,” Turner said. “There’s a teacher shortage, any of the area superintendents will tell you that. This sure helps in attracting teachers.”
Not all districts have been able, so far, to pass the increased state funds on to the teachers. The Central Heights school board gave a 2 percent increase to all non-teaching staff last month according to superintendent Brian Spencer, but they have not settled on a contract with the teacher’s association.
“Our health insurance increase is more than we will receive in new state aid, so the increase in state aid doesn’t even cover cost of living for our staff,” Spencer said. “We are looking at insurance options, and where we go with that will be a piece of the settlement with the teachers.”
Schools will audit their student numbers of Sept. 20 and that number determines the total funding allocated to each district.