School board discusses teacher salary requirements

By Michelle Seeber

The Portales Municipal Schools Board of Education met Wednesday to discuss the 2004-2005 budget and approved the transportation contract for next year with Shearer School Buses.
During the budget work session, board members discussed salary requirements set forth by House Bill 212, which the New Mexico Legislature approved in 2003 to reform education in the state.
Part of budgeting for the coming year will involve planning to stay with a plan that will allow for gradual implementation of House Bill 212’s three-tier plan, which outlines pay structure and statewide evaluation standards for teachers.
The first stage of the plan already was implemented in 2003-2004 with base pay of beginning teachers set at $30,000 a year.
“The minimum salary for any certified teacher was $30,000 this last December,” Deputy Superintendent Murphy Quick said in his office after the meeting. “(What House Bill 212 does is) it spells out years salaries have to be implemented.”
This salary falls under the category of level one, at which beginning teachers must remain for three years progressing to level two. They also must meet evaluation requirements before they reach level two.
According to House Bill 212, in 2004-2005, level two teachers with a standard nine-and-a-half-month contract must be paid $35,000 in 2005-2006 and $40,000 in 2006-2007.
“The money (for this) has to come from the state,” Quick said.
He said the pay raises are expected to improve the quality of teachers in New Mexico school systems.
“There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that the teachers in New Mexico are underpaid,” Quick said. “(This) helps to attract quality educations with pay that is reasonable.”
Part of the pay incentive is to stop teachers from leaving the profession, he said.
“Statistics show many teachers quit after five years,” Quick said.
Eventually teachers with nine years of experience will fall under the third tier and be eligible to receive $50,000 a year, providing they meet the eligibility requirements outlined by House Bill 212.
During the budget work session, Superintendent Jim Holloway said, “It seems to me if we keep going at this rate, we’re going to be going toward a state salary schedule.”
While the salaries will be going up, so will health insurance.
“If you make $30,000 a year, (teachers receiving a raise) will about break even on the insurance costs,” Quick told Holloway.
In approving the transportation contract with Shearer School Buses, the school board went with the same lease as last year.
The contractor will receive $918,904 for operational costs and another $121,694 for lease of equipment.