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Teachers and Gunnison school district reach salary agreement

State action frees up money for salary boost

By Mark Reaman

Teachers in the Gunnison school district will receive a 3 percent base salary increase next year under an agreement reached last week with the school board and administration.

There is also opportunity under the district’s “step” system for a teacher to earn more money when he or she completes additional education incentives.

Overall, the new raise structure amounts to about a 5 percent wage increase that will cost the district about $400,000. The school board voted to approve the contract on May 21. A public hearing on the school district budget is scheduled for June 11.

In last-minute action, Colorado legislators this year reduced the so-called negative factor for school districts. That will result in more money for schools this year. The negative factor is essentially the amount of money the state doesn’t allocate to each district that it should under a state constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2000. The amendment was designed to protect school funding and keep it stable, but in 2009, after an economic downturn, legislators found a way to use some of that money for other state purposes. According to reports at the time, schools with at-risk students or those located in resort communities, where costs are higher, are impacted the most by the negative factor. The negative factor for the Re1J district next year is almost $1.4 million.

Re1J school superintendent Doug Tredway said that basically, the impact of the 2018 bill was to increase the PPR, or per pupil revenue, for next year to $7,584.13 from $7,369.80 allocated from the state in 2017. That money will be put into the school district’s general fund and essentially be used for the salary increase.

“This will allow our starting base salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree to be about $37,300,” said Tredway. “In our system, the more time and education a teacher receives, the higher the salary opportunity. We want to encourage our teachers to get more skill through education and our step system provides that incentive. At the highest end, a teacher with a master’s degree who compiles a lot of additional education could make more than $70,000.”

Tredway said that based on history with per pupil revenue allocations, the new state funding amount should remain stable for the near future. “Now, if a big economic crash were to occur, the state could rescind some of that money,” he said. “So while that could happen, it isn’t likely without a big change. If it did happen, we would respond appropriately.”

In the past under such circumstances, the school district took measures to balance the budget by cutting positions, not replacing buses on a regular basis, eliminating come curriculum choices and not awarding raises. That is not expected to be the case anytime soon.

The new salary structure will take effect in August.

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