MURRAY – The Calloway County Board of Education approved a new pay plan for the upcoming school year at last week’s board meeting. Every employee in the district gets a raise of at least 2%, but some get significantly more. Calloway County School District Superintendent Tres Settle said the discrepancies were necessary to correct inconsistencies with the previous schedule.
“Apparently over the past few years there have been increases in individual cells on our payroll that have been unbalanced — certain groups got very big increases, like grades five through ninth, then they didn’t get a raise for a few more years,” Settle explained earlier this week in a follow-up interview. “What we wanted to do was balance that out so it’s fairer when we give 2% and 3% raises going forward.”
Granting each employee a 2% raise was an important part of the proposed plan. In an email sent to CCSD staff on Friday morning, Settle explained, “If the pandemic has solidified something for me, it’s the assurance that every employee is essential to our day-to-day operations and that the value or one person’s professional duty is not more important than the other. … I think it’s only natural for employees to consider their own salaries and the salaries of others who fall under the same or similar ones, but as a superintendent I have to know all employees and respect the importance of each job role within the circle.”
The new plan increases the district’s annual budget by approximately $625,000. Settle said the district was never in a financial position to make these radical payroll adjustments. He called the move “historic,” noting, “It’s a big part of the change. I’m grateful we can do this. All of our employees deserve everything we can give them.”
Settle acknowledged that due to the passage of House Bill 563, which, among other things, requires districts to adopt open enrollment policies for students residing outside the district, there is notable uncertainty about the district’s future funding.
“I hope we end this school year on a solid footing and that our funding continues to see a positive stream,” Settle said. “Right now there are a lot of unknowns with House Bill 563 and school election. In the past we’ve been able to make budget calculations and forecasts based on our student enrollments, and those student enrollments were based on the previous year, but we’re currently in new territory when it comes to knowing and predicting how many students we might have. It can work to our advantage or to our disadvantage; it’s hard to say at this point.”
The growing teacher shortage was one of Settle’s concerns when revising the new curriculum, although it was not yet an issue for CCSD. Between COVID, the number of teachers retiring across the state, and the creation of multiple new positions in each school district, it’s only a matter of time before the shortage creates significant problems for the district. Therefore, salaries for entry-level teaching positions have been adjusted.
“We want to be competitive on the front lines for teachers who are leaving college and looking for their first job,” Settle said.
North Elementary teacher Noraa Ransey, who spoke at the board meeting about her opposition to the proposed schedule, agrees that offering competitive wages is key to the district’s overall success. In a follow-up interview earlier this week, she said: “I feel blessed to have any raise and am very grateful (the starting salary) for the bus drivers and for the teachers was substantial. To remain competitive and to tie highly skilled educators from the kitchen to the classroom, I will speak again next year to remind our board that they promised to look at this again for a future pay rise.
“I’m living my dream job as a teacher and everyone who really knows me knows that my passion is children. I also have to support my family and retire one day, as do my colleagues. So I will continue to stand up for what I believe in.”
“It’s been an uphill task, but overall I feel better about the payroll than I have since I began my tenure at Calloway County,” Settle said. “I feel that we are extremely competitive with neighboring counties in almost every category, both certified and classified, and are now area leaders in several categories. This overhaul also puts us in a position where future pay rises, which are sure to come, are fairer and more equitable for all.”