Sunnyside Unified School District employees will likely see a pay increase for the first time in five years.
Sunnyside's Governing Board approved a 2 percent raise Tuesday night for teachers and other employees, although the raise is contingent on final budget discussions at the state Legislature.
The Governing Board also approved a measure that would pay current teachers according to the appropriate pay scale, as well as a $500 bonus, which will be paid in December.
In addition, the board will allow the district to maintain pay for employees who retire and resume working under the Arizona State Retirement System return-to-work program. This would offset projected cuts from state lawmakers, according to district officials.
The money for the 2 percent raise would come from $1.4 million in inflationary funding the district would receive from the state, which would make up for funding the district hadn't received since 2010.
A Senate panel on Wednesday approved the court-ordered inflation aid, which totals $82 million for schools statewide. However, the approval was not final, as state lawmakers continued to discuss budget amendments and other concerns on Thursday.
The measure to pay teachers according to the proper pay scale is intended to make up for the years when teachers didn't receive a raise, said district spokeswoman Mary Veres.
For example, a teacher who has taught for five years but didn't receive a raise during that time would be paid based on his or her years of experience, Veres said.
This is expected to resolve the issue of newly hired employees with experience from previous jobs who are paid more than current Sunnyside workers, she said.
The increase and other measures will move the district in the right direction, but more work needs to be done to compensate employees, said board President Louie Gonzales.
"We know that it isn't really enough to make a difference, but that's all we have to offer," Gonzales said.
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Contact reporter Jamar Younger at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4242. On Twitter: @JamarYounger