GFPS board approves teachers, superintendent pay increases
The Great Falls Public Schools board voted unanimously during their Feb. 22 meeting to approve a collective bargaining agreement with the Great Falls Education Association.
The current agreement expires in June and includes about 750 teachers, according to Kerry Dattilo, the GFPS human resources director.
She said that the groups began negotiating in January and the union’s membership voted to approve the agreement on Feb. 22, Dattilo said.
The agreement includes a two percent base salary increase for the 2021-2022 school year and 1.5 percent increase for the 2022-2023 school year.
Teacher salaries are paid out of several funds within the GFPS budget and the current teacher salary budget for 2020-2021 is $43,133,280.
With the two percent increase, the increase for the 2021-2022 school year will be about $862,665.
The 1.5 increase the following school year will add about $659,939 to the teacher salary budget, according to Dattilo.
Kim Skornogoski, school board member, said the raise is a small thank you for their work and “I wish there was room for more of a raise.”
The board also voted 6-1 with Teresa Schreiner dissenting, to approve a three-year contract for Superintendent Tom Moore with a pay increase.
The agenda report from the school board had indicated increasing Moore’s salary by $15,000 to $175,000 for the next school year, but based on some community feedback, the board made a new plan during the meeting.
Moore’s salary is currently $160,000 and Mark Finnicum, school board member, moved to approve a three year increase the salary to $165,000 for the next school year, $170,000 the second year and $175,000 the third year.
There were no other changes to his contract or compensation package.
By the chart in the board packet, Great Falls’ superintendent is the second lowest paid of the other AA districts, despite being the second largest district.
Schreiner, board member and Great Falls Development Authority employee, said the chart is misleading since the cost of living in Great Falls is lower than most other large communities and that while she supported Moore and felt he deserved a raise, she was concerned about the community needs coming out of COVID-19 and the district’s available resources.
Bill Bronson, board member, said that he received several calls from citizens who also supported Moore but were concerned with the initial proposal of a $15,000 raise in once year.
But, he said that superintendents and those in similar positions have substantial responsibilities and “the pressure that they take on is tremendous.”
Yes, Bronson said, the district is lower on pay than other districts, but that they have to be sensitive to the communities sense of what is fair and appropriate.
Skornogoski said she values Moore, but was concerned that they might be offering him a raise at a higher rate than they were able to offer other employees. She said that based on her work with United Way she knows there are real needs in the community that existed previously and have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
She said she has some concern on what the GFPS budget will look like in the coming years based on enrollment numbers and available resources.
Finnicum said that they need to be sensitive to community resources and needs but also want to make sure the district is able to attract quality candidates for future superintendents so they need to be cognizant of the salaries in other regional districts.