7 principals’ pay hiked to market rate, District 51 says

Seven elementary school principals in School District 51 received raises at the start of 2011 in what the district calls an effort to provide competitive pay.

The raises, which amounted to $1,320 to $2,654 a year for each affected administrator, were determined based on research performed by an Arizona-based firm, Mountain States, according to District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland.

The firm studied how much employees performing similar jobs in similar-sized districts in and around Colorado were earning and found the minimum pay for elementary school principals in the study was $76,800. The seven principals who received raises were making less than that amount and were brought up to that level, Kirtland said.

Teachers did not receive pay adjustments this year because teacher pay already is set at competitive levels according to market research, Kirtland said. The average salary for a District 51 teacher in 2009 was $49,401, $220 above the state average, according to the Colorado Department of Education.

Teacher pay increases based on years of experience and education were frozen this year, as were pay scales for other positions in the district.

The principals who received a boost are Jacqueline Wilson of Chatfield Elementary, Carol Wethington of Wingate Elementary, Patti Virden of Rocky Mountain Elementary, Michelle Mansheim of Clifton Elementary, Curry Newton of Nisley Elementary, Kathy Hays of Fruitvale Elementary and Steve States of Shelledy Elementary.

Kirtland said some people may question granting the raises in a year when $10.5 million had to be cut from the budget, but he said the impacts of the raises are “minimal” and will not require extra revenue.

“What you could see potentially is these principals going elsewhere” if their pay is not comparable to principals in similar districts, Kirtland said. “We have to look at that investment as it relates to ensuring quality staff.”

Dawn Lang, president of the Parent-Teacher Association at Fruitvale, said she is OK with the raises. She said other adjustments, such as decreasing the number of aides in the school, would have a larger impact on the budget than market adjustments for principal pay.

“You have to give so much of yourself” to be a principal, she said. “I’d want a pay increase if I had an important job. I think everybody would. It’s not fair not to give them raises.”

Kirtland said the district performs a “market adjustment” for employees every two or three years. A few speech and language pathologists, school nurses and two other administrators also received raises following the study.


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