School board changes contract language for salary flexibility, officials say

The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board met on Friday afternoon to approve a language revision to certified employee contracts for the 2018-19 school year.

The language revisions will give the Governing Board more flexibility in teacher salaries, officials say.

At 3 p.m. Friday, April 13, the Governing Board briefly met at the Mohave District Annex, 8500 E. Jackrabbit Road, to discuss and approve the language revisions. Board member Pam Kirby was absent.

(file photo)

The 2018-19 teacher employment contract revision removed language referencing specific amounts that could be applied to teacher salaries if the state provided SUSD with additional funds. The section was replaced with language stating the Governing Board can determine what that dollar amount is, and does not have any salary ranges within the language.

Prior language allowed the board to increase teacher salaries by an amount not to exceed 4 percent of the base salary, or may make a one-time allocation of funds in an amount not to exceed 10 percent of the base salary.

Pam Sitton, assistant superintendent of personnel and specialized services, explained to the Governing Board that the contracts included a base salary and a 2 percent step-raise, if applicable. In the fall, a 1.06 percent stipend will be given to teachers, she said.

District officials say that the language in the teacher contracts allows for the Governing Board to use state funding to determine a percent increase.

“The intent of the language from the beginning … was to allow the district to provide increases to teachers should we get new funding, or find available funding, after having offered them their current salaries,” General Counsel Michelle Marshall said during the meeting.

“This language allows you to do that and determine what percentage you will give.”

Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg says the news coming out of Gov. Doug Ducey’s office to increase teachers’ salaries across the state the day before, was exciting.

“Just for clarity’s sake, we did communicate to staff that those 4 (percent) and 10 (percent) numbers were not reflective of the board’s desire,” she said. “Especially considering yesterday’s news, which we’re all very excited about.

So this language does indeed give us the freedom, the flexibility, to put as many dollars as we possibly can into our educators’ hands.”

The meeting was announced on short notice, and Ms. Marshall says she received a couple of emails regarding the change.

“I received some emails, probably about five, and definitely recognizing that this was short notice, so not ideal by any means,” she said.

“There were some complaints about the short notice. I did have one teacher who said ‘what about those of us who already signed?’”

Scottsdale Schools Governing Board President Barbara Perleberg (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Ms. Marshall says every teacher, whether signed or not, will have the new language offered to them.

“We definitely will communicate to all teachers how to deal with it, whether they’ve signed it or not,” she said, noting that only 250 teachers had signed their contracts at that point.

“We’re going to make sure they all understand how to do it.”

Ms. Sitton said state statutes allows teachers 15 days to review the contract.

“We all recognize this was not an ideal situation to pull this language back,” Ms. Perleberg said.

“Mistakes are made, things happen, but I do appreciate staff’s quick response, the ability to just let teachers know that this will be corrected. Yeah it was fast, but we didn’t want to leave it hanging out there as some big question for staff for days.”

The revised language passed 4-0.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at or can be followed on Twitter at

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