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ESD reports salary increases

by Caitlan Butler | September 23, 2022 at 12:00 a.m.

El Dorado School District Assistant Superintendent Melissa Powell presented a report on salary increases during the 2021/2020 school year to the district's school board last week.

The report details what ESD employees and others who perform work for the district received 5% or more in payment compared to the previous school year. Per Arkansas code, such salary increases must be approved annually by a district's school board and their approval resolution submitted to the state.

"This year, we did have several that got a salary increase, where we changed their pay scale – for example, we did that with cafeteria got a significant raise, and paraprofessionals. And we needed to adjust those salaries," Powell said.

Many of the "salary increases" did not come from pay raises, but instead from additional work ESD employees did during the school year, like taking on an additional bus route, working during the summer and providing tutoring.

"Summer school and tutoring, those really seem to be the (most) increases," Powell said.

Some employees also received extra pay from incentives offered by the district for good attendance, getting a COVID-19 vaccine or relocating to take a job in the ESD. Sign-on bonuses are also provided to new teachers in the district.

Additionally, some employees who retired after the last school year received leave pay downs, where they received wages for any paid time off that was unused. Some of those who took on new positions in the district were also included in the report.

The biggest jump in pay was for a teacher/coach who joined the ESD as a full-time employee in the 2021/2022 school year; his pay jumped from $484 in the 2020/2021 school year to $62,267.87 the following year, a 12,765.26% increase.

The smallest increase over 5% was for a teacher who underwent professional development and had leave time paid out and saw her pay increase by $2,581.04, or 5.02%, to $52,973.14 during the 2021/2022 school year.

The highest salary an ESD employee had following a pay increase last school year was $91,379.25, which was received by a transportation director who went from being a part-time employee making $14,017.63 in 2020/2021 to becoming a full-time district staff member.

The lowest salary listed in the report was $875 paid to a woman who received a salary increase and worked additional hours in the 2021/2022 school year. She made $737.50 the previous year.

Powell explained that everyone who performed work for the ESD was included in the report, including substitute teachers and test proctors who may have only worked a handful of days and weeks during the school year. The district also provided a salary increase, she said, so more employees are included in this year's report than usual.

"In years where we don't have a salary increase, there's hardly anyone on it," she said.

The average salary for ESD employees included in the report was approximately $39,957.86. The average increase in pay – only counting those employees whose compensation increased by 5% or more – was $7,432.01. The median pay increase was $3,764.93.

Shelley Pruitt, chief financial officer for the district, noted that while state law designates increases in compensation of 5% or more as salary increases, the report isn't limited to just those employees who received raises.

"This is not strictly salary increases – this is every cent that anyone who works for the district worked over the course of two years," Pruitt said. "Summer school is not salary; tutoring is not salary; additional hours are not salary... It is, in my opinion, misleading to you guys and the Legislature."

School Board member Wayne Gibson said he wondered whether state legislators actually read the reports, which must be submitted annually.

"I would hope that someone looks at it," Powell said. "It is designed to keep you honest, and it's designed to have the checks and balances – that we did not just create a salary schedule for a small group of people that gave them a very large increase without you being very aware of this increase and where it came from."

Superintendent Jim Tucker thanked Powell and Pruitt for their work on the report.

"They have other jobs that they have to do, and it's a shame that they have to do this one, but I will echo what Ms. Powell said: it is to keep us honest, we do want to do what's right," Tucker said. "But I'm like Mr. Gibson as well: They better read it."

There were 236 employees included in the report Powell presented, and she said more than 700 people's compensation was examined in making the report.

Print Headline: ESD reports salary increases

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