District 51 moves substitute teachers onto Hilltop’s payroll

Substitute teachers in School District 51 will no longer be school district employees beginning in January.

The district will still recruit and schedule substitute teachers, but Hilltop will handle processing and payroll duties for substitutes, who will become Hilltop employees.

The district will save $30,000 in the first year of the new system, according to Melissa Callahan DeVita, District 51 executive director of support services.

Even though District 51 will pay Hilltop to perform payroll duties for substitutes, the district will see a net savings because Hilltop employees pay into Social Security instead of PERA, the retirement fund school district employees pay into, and employers contribute a smaller percentage of a person’s paycheck amount to Social Security than they contribute to PERA.

The district’s savings will grow annually because while the employer contribution to PERA increases by 0.9 percent each year, the employer contribution to Social Security remains steady, Callahan DeVita said.

She said most substitutes won’t miss contributing to PERA.

“By far the majority of substitutes will never work enough to get PERA benefits, anyway,” she said.

Employees also pay less into Social Security than into PERA, so substitute teachers will contribute less of their paychecks to retirement benefits as Hilltop employees.

“We’ll still set the wage, so they’ll have the same per diem, but they’ll take home more” money, Callahan DeVita said.

They’ll also get paid more frequently: every other week instead of monthly.

The idea to take substitute teachers off the district’s payroll came about last school year during budget-cutting discussions, Superintendent Steve Schultz said. The district invited bidders to propose becoming the substitutes’ new employer and came to an agreement with Hilltop.

Hilltop is a Grand Junction-based service agency that offers programs ranging from prenatal health care to assisted living for the elderly.


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