School districts across the State are currently interviewing and recruiting new teachers for the 2014-2015 school year. Garfield School District is no exception; we have been posting vacant teacher positions since March in an attempt to attract teachers to the District before they are hired in other districts. The most difficult positions to fill are secondary math and science teachers. Districts must be competitive on salary scales and benefit packages to attract the best teachers possible to the classrooms. The beginning teacher salary is critical as new graduates enter the teaching profession, try to pay off student loans and begin their careers. They often select districts with higher compensations. The original beginning teacher compensation was $31,732 placing the GCSD well below the State average when compared to other districts. The Garfield County School Board recently approved an increase in the beginning teacher salary to $33,347. The increase is only for the teachers in their first and second year of employment.
It is also common for school districts to offer some type of early retirement incentive to allow veteran teachers who are on the top of the pay scales to retire; thus allowing new teachers to enter at a lower beginning salary. Early retirement incentives can be beneficial for both the retiring teachers and the districts by allowing veteran teachers opportunities to purchase insurance or years of service with the retirement systems. The financial benefit to the District comes when the salaries of the veteran teachers are compared to the salary for the beginning teachers. When the difference in the two salaries is compared with the each other the maximum savings in one year is $29,086 and a minimum savings of $11,312. With the financial savings and benefits for both the district and the teacher an early retirement proposal is currently available until May 30, 2014. The incentive requires the teacher to resign and retire to be eligible for a onetime $10,000 financial compensation to the teacher. I understand concerns from people who may ask why the District would offer such an incentive to change the staffing in the schools. These types of incentives are available in other districts and were available in the Garfield District as recently as 2010. Garfield School District received Secure Rural School (SRS) monies that made it possible to offer this onetime incentive. I am providing you with this information in an attempt to increase transparency in the District by keeping everyone informed with accurate information. If I can answer be of any assistance to answer any questions, please contact me at the District office.
–Superintendent Ben Dalton