The Douglas County School District has 50 unfilled bus-driver positions. The hourly pay starts at $16.06 per hour. The same position in the Cherry Creek School District starts at $17.58 per hour. The …
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The Douglas County School District has 50 unfilled bus-driver positions. The hourly pay starts at $16.06 per hour. The same position in the Cherry Creek School District starts at $17.58 per hour.
The shortage at DCSD forced the district to cancel several field trips — most at the middle school level — planned for this school year.
In Douglas County, educational assistants who work with students with special needs make $13.60 an hour. At Cherry Creek, similar positions start at $14.63 an hour.
“Not only are we competing with neighboring districts,” DCSD Superintendent Thomas Tucker said, “we are competing with local restaurants around here for quality people.”
The school district is struggling to attract and retain classified employees — bus drivers, teachers' aides, health assistants, educational assistants in special education and other hourly positions. At a board of education meeting on Oct. 16, district staff made a recommendation to the school board for salary increases for the hard-to-fill positions.
“It's going to take more money and time to fully address the problems we have,” Mary Chesla, the district's compensation and licensed substitute director, said during a presentation at the meeting. “It doesn't fully close the gap but it narrows it considerably.”
The recommendation depends heavily on ballot measure 5A, a $40 million mill levy override. If voters approve the tax measure on Nov. 6, additional funds would go toward teacher and staff pay and programming. Of the $40 million, $14 million would go toward staff salaries and $3 million would go toward benefits, according to Chesla.
In the district's recommendation, classified employees in hard-to-fill positions would receive a raise starting at 5 percent. In addition, those who worked during the three-year pay freeze from 2008-11 would receive a 1.5 percent raise for each year, on top of their current salary.
Here's how it would work: A classified employee who experienced three years of the pay freeze would get a 4.5 percent raise, or 1.5 percent for each of the three years. On top of that, the employee would receive a 5 percent raise to his or her current salary.
In June, the board voted to enact a pay raise for licensed staff, which are teachers and administrators. In the 2019-20 school year, licensed employees and administrators on the district's performance evaluation systems will receive a 3.2 percent flat raise. Licensed employees will also receive a 2 percent raise for each year of the pay freeze they experienced.
The conversation on compensation for classified employees will continue at a board meeting on Nov. 13. If the mill levy override passes and the school board approves the recommendation, classified staff would receive retroactive payments for this school year through December. In January, they would have a new payroll rate for the following six months of the school year.
School board member Wendy Vogel pointed out that the school district is the largest employer in Douglas County, with 8,400 employees.
“This isn't just good for our system and students, this is good for our community,” Vogel said of the salary increases. “For us to treat people and pay them fairly is good for our whole community.”
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