By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Tucumcari Municipal School District teachers will be receiving at least 3-percent pay increases across the board in 2014-2015, in line with guidelines approved by the Legislature.
The raises include a hike in starting pay for beginning teachers to match the state’s prescribed minimum of $32,000 per year.
Leola Patterson, the district’s business manager, said some teachers will receive raises as great as 4 percent, especially if they are eligible for step increases, for which they qualify with increasing experience and academic credentials.
Tucumcari will not be pilot-testing merit-based pay next year, either, which is pleasing to Greg Maxie, the National Education Association New Mexico Uniserve director for eastern New Mexico.
“You chose to keep the spirit of everyone acting together,” Maxie told the school board at its meeting of March 17, when the salary decisions were announced. Despite facing reductions in other funds, Maxie said, “You’ve managed to budget in a way that does no harm to the kids and esteems your staff.”
When Gov. Susana Martinez signed the legislature’s budget the governor’s office noted in a news release that, “under this budget, in addition to all teachers receiving a 3% pay raise, the minimum starting salary for teachers in New Mexico will move from $30,000 to $32,000, a 6.7% increase.”
All other employees are scheduled to receive raises of at least 3 percent next year, however, in the salary schedule the school board approved on March 17. Instructional assistants will receive raises of 6 percent next year. Three percent raises will go to transportation employees, maintenance and bus-barn personnel, school nurses and ancillary employees, who include occupational therapists, social workers and speech therapists, and public school nurses.
In addition the board approved the following pay levels for the following individuals:
• Superintendent Aaron McKinney, $109,200.
• Assistant Superintendent David Johnson, $88,426.
• High School Principal Nicole Bright-Lesly, $$83,440
• Middle School Principal Roberta Segura, $74,277.
• Elementary School Principal Tonya Hodges, $70,192.
• Special Education Director Cathy Fury, $50,000.
• Technology Director Mark Carrara, $52,015.
• Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Bernadette Moya, $44,644.
• Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Steve Newman, $35,432
• Business Manager Leola Patterson, $63,000.
The raises will come despite a projected decrease in the schools’ total budget for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Patterson.
In a budget workshop before the March 17 meeting, Patterson noted the district could be facing revenue reductions between $225,000 and $250,000, since it is projecting a reduction of about 30 in its net number of students enrolled, but funding for salary increases is likely to come from allocations approved by the state legislature.
McKinney observed that 2014-2015 will be the first school year since 2008 in which pay raises for teachers and other employees will not be completely overcome by increases in health insurance costs.