Salaries for new teachers in Aspen to be state’s highest | AspenTimes.com

Salaries for new teachers in Aspen to be state’s highest

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen School District recently improved an increase in teachers’ starting salaries, bumping a new recruit’s pay from $27,000 to $33,000 per year.

“It’s the highest starting salary in the state of Colorado, which is consistent with the district’s goal of attracting and retaining the highest-quality staff possible,” said Cheryl Cumnock, facilitator of the district’s salary task force.

Veteran teachers will also enjoy a raise with the start of a new school year. In adjusting a starting teacher’s pay, the salary task force had to make adjustments to the district’s entire salary schedule, said task force member and school board secretary Jon Seigle.

“The task force said we wanted to have the highest starting salary in the state of Colorado, or at least close to it, so we had to go to $33,000,” Seigle said. “You can see how that would create some inequity for someone who had been here a year or two and started at $27,000.”

Existing teachers will get anywhere from a 3 percent to a 22 percent raise with the schedule adjustment, Seigle said. Those who joined the district with a $27,000 salary will see the largest raise.

The salary hikes will take effect with the start of a new contract year in July.

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Money for the districtwide pay raises was made available by the property tax increase approved by Pitkin County voters last November. The vote made an extra $1.1 million available to help the school district attract better teachers, Cumnock said.

Cumnock estimates that six months after the election, nearly $650,000 has been put toward the district’s goal. The salary hike marks the third approval of a salary task force recommendation since the group came together late last year. The task force is made up of Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan, Aspen High Principal Kendall Evans, three district teachers, two school board members and four community members

In early December, the Aspen School Board approved the use of $319,000 to place teachers in their correct spot on the district salary schedule, which had suffered in recent years due to shortfalls in the district budget. Just last month, the board allotted $50,000 for a teacher recruitment campaign that would allow more advertising for district jobs and a presence at national job fairs.

Now that the immediate needs of the district’s teachers have been met, the salary task force still has a little over $400,000 to allot to deserving programs.

“Now that we’ve addressed teacher salaries in a manner we’re comfortable with, now we have to do the same thing for our support staff,” Seigle said of the remaining money.

The task force will now begin evaluating the salaries of a host of district employees, ranging from paraprofessional staff to maintenance workers. Seigle estimates the evaluations will be done by the start of the new school year in August.

The group is also taking a hard look at housing issues for district staff, Seigle said. The task force is currently sifting through “some very creative proposals,” including rental subsidies and loan assistance programs.