Harlan Independent school board approves pay increases

Published 3:46 pm Thursday, June 9, 2022

The Harlan Independent School Board discussed raising the pay rates for their certified and classified employees during a recent meeting, with the board approving the new pay schedule.

Superintendent C.D. Morton brought the board up to speed on the topic, pointing out the current job market for classified employees is having an impact on the district.

“Obviously the markets are changing around us,” Morton said.

He explained classified employees are those who are not state certified employees, including positions such as cooks, secretaries, and bus drivers.

“We’ve had discussions around when we might be able to make a difference in those salaries,” Morton said. “It’s been a while since we’ve done that. Collectively, what we’ve done as a district is always try to apply the same percentage to everyone, if we were going to give a one or two percent raise, we’ve done that across the board.”

According to Morton, in the last 18 months the job market has seen changes that are impacting the district’s ability to provide a competing package for classified employees.

“We’ve got a really widening gap for those folks,” Morton said.

Morton went over the proposed pay schedule for the board.

“We’re going to make our lowest classified hourly rate $10 per hour,” Morton said. “We decided to start with a baseline of getting everybody up to $10 an hour. Keep in mind $10 an hour for many of our classified staff – over half of them would fall into this category – that’s nearly a $2.50 per hour raise. That’s almost 30 percent. That’s a pretty significant number.”

Morton explained this percentage of increase would only apply to classified employees.

“There’s no possible way you could take the certified salary schedule and say we’re going to do 30 percent,” Morton said. “At 10 percent, you would have to have an extra $400,000 coming in, and we just don’t have that.”

Morton mentioned the goal is to retain good employees.

“Let’s incentivize people to start with us and stay with us,” Morton said. “This classification plan illustrates within about the first five years, you can add another nearly $2 to your per hour rate. Then it has a little higher incremental raise than what we were giving on the previous one…As you’re getting ready to retire, we’re going to bump your salary up and that will have a retirement benefit that will last forever.”

Morton said every classified employee would see a significant raise in pay. He pointed out the proposed pay for bus drivers would increase to approximately $15 per hour.

“As a general rule, you’re looking at a 30 percent raise across the board for (classified employees),” Morton said. “Not everybody is going to get 30 percent, some are going to get less…I’m hopeful that will have a dramatic effect on our working pool of people.”

Morton said the action is overdue.

“If we had increased revenue streams, I would be asking the board to do more,” Morton said.

Morton also told the board a two percent raise for certified staff is being proposed.

“I personally went around to talk to all the staff members, and I told them our number one priority as we went through this budgeting session was to fix our classified salary schedule,” Morton said. “Close after that is if we can afford a raise for our certified staff, we’ll do that.”

Morton noted the avenue for future pay increases would be increased student enrollment.

The board voted to approve the 2022-2023 certified and classified employee pay schedule with no objections.