Some DeKalb school employees could see second raise of year

A plan to give DeKalb teachers who have five to 15 years of experience a raise in 2016 could cost about $20 million.

Superintendent Steve Green said the plan, which is expected to come before the DeKalb Board of Education later this year, has been discussed publicly, including at “On the Scene with Dr. Green,” Tuesday night’s meeting between Green and area teachers, parents and residents.

“Every place I’ve mentioned this … it gets strong applause or has drawn recognition and support and a positive response,” Green said Thursday. “I’ve been encouraged about that. This is an investment in a top priority in the school district, aligning our financial capital with our human capital.

“It’s putting our money where our priority is.”

The move is to make salaries more competitive with surrounding school districts.

“The challenge we are having is recruiting and retaining high quality staff,” said Tekshia Ward-Smith, who heads the district’s human relations department. “With the resources, we can make sure we retain high quality and become more competitive.”

Ward-Smith said information was compiled from several area school districts and used to determine a comparative salary average.

“On many positions, we were dead last,” she said.

If implemented, about 8,800 district employees will be impacted, with some teachers receiving up to 20 percent pay bumps. Principals and paraprofessionals could also get raises.

The system used $20 million already to give raises to teachers, secretaries, bus drivers, custodians and other staffers for the 2015-2016 school year. District staff received a 1 percent cost-of-living increase last year for the first time in seven years.

Under the pay plan, school faculty members with six or more years of service would get a 4 percent cost-of-living hike, teachers with up to five years would receive 3 percent, and other district staff would receive 2-percent increases.