Denair Unified Employees Granted Additional One-Time 3% Salary Payments

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

All employees of the Denair Unified School District were granted an additional one-time salary payment of 3% by trustees Thursday night, the latest sign of the district’s improved financial health. Combined with previous raises totaling 5%, the money brings employees’ compensation this year to what they were in 2013.

“I know it’s only a one-time (payment), but it’s movement toward full salary restoration,” said board President Kathi Dunham-Filson.

The vote was 4-0, with Trustee Robert Hodges absent. Both unions already had approved the agreements. The payments for members of the Denair Unified Teachers Association and California State Employees Association will cost the district $215,650.

It is the second time this school year that trustees have approved one-time payments for Denair employees. Last October, all teachers who were on staff in 2015-16 received payments representing 2.37% of their salaries, matching those given classified staff members earlier in the year.

The payments are part of the plan to gradually restore wages that were slashed four years ago, when the district faced a financial crisis based largely on declining enrollment, overstaffing and reduced state funding.

Salaries for classified staff were reduced 12%; pay for teachers and administrators was cut 8%. Some employees were laid off.

Superintendent Aaron Rosander and Chief Business Officer Linda Covello – who both arrived in 2014 — initiated a financial recovery program that maximized the use of so-called “restricted” funds to pay for people, programs and equipment while reducing the burden on the general fund.

Most significantly, the district increased enrollment, particularly at Denair Elementary Charter Academy and Denair Charter Academy. Enrollment peaked at about 1,600 students in 2008, but fell to 1,294 children in 2014-15. There are about 1,335 students on the district’s four campuses today.

Enrollment numbers – and the state funds tied to it via Average Daily Attendance – are key to the district’s financial recovery plan. Additional permanent salary restoration for teachers is tied directly to maintaining and increasing enrollment.

In other action Thursday, trustees:

  • Recognized retiring staff members with a combined 171 years in education, all but 12 of them in the Denair district. Honored with engraved clocks were teachers Patti Greer (40 years), Carol Hammond (38 years), Johanna Hoyt (29 years), Mary Worman (27 years) and Colleen Vickery (22 years), and maintenance worker Charlie Asbill (15 years).
  • Thanked art teacher John Stavrianoudakis and the 24 high school students who painted the district logo on the ceiling of the board meeting room. Stavrianoudakis was presented a plaque with the names of everyone who worked on the project; the plaque will be mounted on the wall in the meeting room.
  • Honored student board member Ileah Brantley with a plaque for her service.
  • Thanked four special education teachers who took on unexpected assignments this school year on short notice — Breanne Aguiar, Stephanie DeMuro, Bonnie Lundquist and Rhonda Bird.

Listened to a presentation on health benefits from Chief Business Officer Linda Covello and a representative from the Taylor & Associates Benefits company in Modesto. Depending on which health providers the district chooses, employees could collectively save as much as $125,000 in the next school year. The district contributes $500 per employee to the cost of premiums for health, dental and vision care.

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