Wyoming State Rep. Dan Laursen expressed his concern regarding continued growth in education funding in a May 5 Powell Tribune article. Laursen stated, “I think we have great …
Wyoming State Rep. Dan Laursen expressed his concern regarding continued growth in education funding in a May 5 Powell Tribune article. Laursen stated, “I think we have great education, but at some point you have to get control over it.” adding, “Our teachers in Powell have been getting raises every year — which is good — but you don’t see the private industry being able to do that quite [so] often.”
Education funding is a complex beast to say the least. Our elected senators and House representatives have the daunting responsibility of upholding Wyoming’s constitutional requirement of managing how to provide equitable, free public education. As concerned taxpayers, voters, educators and as members of the Powell Education Association, we believe it is our responsibility to be as informed as we can about education funding. We have collectively learned about our “raises” here at Park County School District #1 in our quest for knowledge.
According to PCSD#1 Superintendent Jay Curtis, eligible PCSD#1 employees have not had a raise to the base salary since 2015. Every year our board of trustees vote to approve a salary schedule that outlines steps (for years of service) and lanes (based on education).
The lane change is solely the burden of the employee; we must pay for our own educational credits and follow a strict board policy in order to make a lane change. Our board of trustees can vote to not approve, which freezes movement on those schedules. The increase provided through the steps and lanes system, is more of a cost of living adjustment — which, by the way, is less than a true cost of living adjustment based on the Wyoming Cost of Living Index.
Just as in the private sector, educators are responsible for increases to employee portions of their insurance premiums as well as increases to their retirement contributions. The steps and lanes system helps to balance those increases, essentially keeping our net usable paycheck from going backwards.
Our district has 68 employees that have hit the ceiling on the schedule, meaning their net usable check is less every year. Since 80-85% of a school district’s budget goes to salaries and benefits, it is imperative to understand a district must have an attractive retention and recruitment tool. Just like the private sector, school districts have market pressure.
School districts are competing for the best employees, not only with other Wyoming districts, but also with other states. The steps and lanes schedules are the district’s “good faith effort” to retain quality, experienced staff and competitively recruit new talent.
Don’t you agree the students of Park County School District #1 deserve the best educators available?
Necole Hanks, Wendy Smith and John Fabela
Powell Education Association