Aspen school district and education association approve agreement for new pay scales

The Aspen School District School Board unanimously approved a deal with the teachers’ union at the Aspen Education Association on Wednesday evening which will introduce new salary grids aimed at raising the salaries of many staff and leveling out the pay equity scales.

“I think it changes a lot of lives, and we’ve heard from many teachers who really appreciate it,” said Stephanie Nixon, president of the Aspen Education Association.

Members of the Aspen Education Association ratified the agreement at 6 p.m. Tuesday with 105 votes in favor and three votes against, Nixon told the board. The association has about 165 members, Nixon said. The ratified agreement comes into force on July 1.



The agreement includes four new pay scales with the following starting salary: one for certified staff such as teachers at $50,000, one for support service providers at $54,000, one for salaried education support professionals at $40,000 (the most starting salaries for positions on this scale starting at $55,000 or $57,000) and one for education support professionals paid at $21 per hour. Substitute pay will also increase.

“In total, we’re probably spending about $2 million including benefits” to accommodate salary increases in the new salary grids, chief financial officer Linda Warhoe said.



Salary scales for certified personnel and support service providers are based on years of service as well as education achieved. Salary grids for education support professionals are based solely on years of service, but these employees are eligible for annual stipends based on the highest degree earned.

The agreement also includes a detailed additional compensation schedule for stipends and additional compensation staff can earn for certifications and additional service to the district, such as mentoring another teacher or coaching a school team.

Much of this additional pay was once rolled into a district employee’s base pay, but will now be itemized. This change will not affect how earned income is factored into retirement savings, according to Nixon and the district’s director of human resources, Amy Littlejohn.

District officials stressed that the goal was fair wage increases to level the scales (rather than equal, across-the-board increases).

The district worked with a human resources firm to conduct a salary study which found that approximately half of district staff earned above market rate and half earned below market rate, with a significant deviation within that range, according to Littlejohn and Superintendent David. baugh.

About seven employees across the district had market-rate wages, Littlejohn said.

“I think every employee had a different rate of pay,” Nixon said.

The new pay scale is universal, which means the base salary will not change based on patronage or other arbitrary factors, according to Baugh.

According to Nixon, the district moved away from a standardized pay scale in the 2017-18 school year. Baugh said he thought it was “one of the worst things that’s ever happened to this district.”

“Nobody knew where they were,” Baugh said. “You had a pay scale override, sort of, but there’s a huge variation in that.”

Littlejohn described the new schedule as a “level playing field”. The focus on implementing pay equity now means that the new salary grids will not have the same impact on all employees, and some employees will not see a pay increase at all due to the variability in pay rates before.

Some staff members receive a salary increase of less than $1,500; they will receive a one-time bonus equal to the difference between their raise and $1,500.

But other staff could see pay raises of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars depending on their degree and “step” they are on the timeline, as well as how close to their base salary with the existing 2021-22 salary scale. the district posted online. (Steps represent “a full year of service equivalent to 10 months or more of full-time employment in a comparable role,” according to the proposed schedule.)

For example, a teacher entering zero step of the schedule with a bachelor’s degree would earn a base salary of $50,000 under the proposed salary scale for 2022-2023, up about 8.7% from $46,000 he would have earned under a 2021-22 schedule. A teacher with a doctorate. at step 10 of the salary scale, the base salary would be $82,887 in the 2022-2023 school year, up approximately 20.3% from $66,028 in 2021-2022 .

The proposed salary scale also includes higher base salaries for teachers with a bachelor’s degree and up to 24 additional credits or a master’s degree plus up to 60 additional credits. Teachers with more than these maximum additional credit amounts will not receive additional compensation unless they earn an additional degree.

This means that a teacher with a master’s degree and, say, 100 additional credits, would receive the same base salary as a teacher with a master’s degree and 60 additional credits at the same step in the schedule.

That teacher with lots of extra educational credits would only move on to the next column with higher pay scales if he earned his doctorate, Littlejohn said.

Also, going forward, teachers should get approval for additional credits earned beyond their degrees to ensure those credits are aligned with academic outcomes and what teachers are doing in the classroom, according to Baugh. and Deputy Superintendent Tharyn Mulberry.

This cap on additional credits has been a source of frustration for some staff members like kindergarten teacher Lisa McGuire and grade one teacher Jill Pisani, who spoke during the public comments section of the meeting. education board on Wednesday.

Both teachers said they’ve dedicated time and energy to earning well beyond that 60-credit cap and would like to see pay increases that reflect this work they’ve done. Pisani said by her calculations she would get a 1% raise and McGuire said she thinks she won’t be ‘even at 1% – I’m at 0%’ based on what she’s currently earning with respect to the new schedule.

Nixon acknowledged this frustration while noting that the purpose of this work was to level the ladders, not to put the existing ladder on a new shelf.

“We had to get it right,” Nixon said. “And you know, it’s hard because you see people who won’t get as much as others. … It’s not that you’re not valued, it’s just that we had to work things out for so many other people.

Andrew B. Reiter