State Education Commissioner Johnny Key, who controls the Little Rock School District in state receivership, has approved a proposal for a $1,135 pay increase for all district school teachers.
The increase will have the biggest percentage impact, about 3 percent, at the bottom end of the scale, raising the starting pay from $34,865 to $36,000. The proposal grew from talks between Superintendent Mike Poore and the Little Rock Education Association. Key issued this statement:
In my approval of this agenda item, I wish to acknowledge with great appreciation the work of the LREA and LRSD negotiating teams on arriving at this agreement.’
The Teacher Salary Enhancement Act championed by Governor Hutchinson has provided an excellent opportunity to make LRSD more competitive in teacher recruitment with this increase in the starting salary. This agreement accelerates the timeline to meet the new minimum salary schedule in the 2019-20 school, rather than waiting until 2022-23. The funding provided by Gov. Hutchinson and the Arkansas General Assembly made that acceleration feasible.
With that accelerated timeline, however, comes a responsibility for ensuring the district can maintain the ongoing financial obligation. The budget reductions and efficiency efforts implemented since 2015, together with the efficiencies in education delivery that will result from the LRSD Community Blueprint, have positioned the district to meet this obligation. I am confident in the vigilance of the LRSD Finance Office to analyze and advise Mr. Poore and the Commissioner’s Office regarding any factors that might affect district finances in the future, and to recommend adjustments to budgets, staffing, and policies as may be necessary.
Key doesn’t note that the district will assume the obligation for the increased pay in future years and that attendance (and thus state dollars) is declining thanks to charter school proliferation that Key has supported. Inevitably, the only place to save money through “efficiencies” is to cut jobs. But we knew that. Some 100 jobs will be eliminated next school year.