Bonus payout for select Fort Smith Public School teachers will arrive Dec. 15
Some veteran Fort Smith public school teachers will receive a one-time bonus payment that was approved in May with the teacher increase and salary schedule update on Dec. 15, according to an administration memo. FSPS.
A payment of $1,500, which the administration calls a one-time retention payment, to be paid with federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Assistance) funds during the 2022-23 school year was school board approved to supplement approved 2022-23. restructured the certified pay scale, the memo says.
The Fort Smith School Board on May 9 approved a new salary scale for certified employees that provided teachers with an average salary increase of 5.89% for the 2022-23 contract year. With the largest increases given to the base salary of new teachers, many veteran teachers have seen very little change in their salary.
The average salary increase for teachers in the new schedule in percentage terms is still well below the most recent increase given to District Superintendent Dr. Terry Morawski. When Morawski’s superintendent contract was extended, his salary was set at 14.47% higher than his salary approved on December 30, 2020. Compensation for certified personnel had increased on average by 1.11% during the same period.
The Approved Certified Salary Schedule for Certified Personnel added $5,500 to the Base Certified Salary Schedule (CSS) and leveled the current “step” increases from Step 2 to Step 22. It increased the base salary by $38,500 to $44,000 for the 2022-2023 school year. The new step schedule increased teacher salaries by an average of $3,471.81 in the new contract year (5.89%), with salary increases ranging from $800 to $6,300 (1, 16% to 16.04%).
Charles Warren, chief financial officer of the FSPS, said Oct. 31 that the one-time retention payment had been approved by ADE, but the administration did not know when the checks would be distributed to staff. On Friday (November 4), he emailed staff saying payments would be released on December 15, with qualified staff in Stages 16-22 receiving payments.
“Qualified personnel include homeroom teachers and other department-level certified personnel, including, but not limited to, interventionists, instructional specialists, special education coordinators and adult education teachers. School-level administrators (such as principals and vice-principals) will also be eligible. District-level administrators (such as department directors) will not be eligible for payment,” the email reads. “Nurses, police officers, professional support staff, PT/OT assistants and SLP assistants have separate salary grids and will not be eligible for payment.”
At the time the step-by-step salary change for certified employees was approved, Warren said veteran teachers would receive a smaller increase than new teachers, but explained that was because the old salary scale was skewed so that veteran teachers already earned more than most districts in the Fort Smith metro area while beginning teachers earned significantly less. He said the new schedule was a “market correction”.
The certified pay scale restructuring resulted in a cost to the district of $4.5 million. In order to counter the fact that not all certified staff members have received equal salary increases through the new salary scale, the administration has proposed a “certified retention plan that targets the salaries of veteran teachers who may not not benefit as much as new staff in this proposal,” Morawski said. at the time.
Retention payments were not included in the $4.5 million.
The district has submitted a proposal for review and approval by the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to use a portion of ESSER dollars to fund this fixed payment amount. Arkansas received $1.25 billion in ESSER funds. Arkansas ESSER funds are used to support and provide interventions that address student learning loss, summer enrichment programs, and comprehensive after-school programs with 90% of Arkansas funds under- subsidized to school districts and community organizations.