PROGRESS 2022: MCSD increases wages, removes experience cap

T-R PHOTO BY SUSANNA MEYER —Over the last several months, the Marshalltown Community School District board of education has approved multiple raises for multiple categories of staff.

Multiple wage increases for Marshalltown Community School District employees have been approved in the last several months, and while pay is examined every year, some employee categories received more notable raises this year, specifically paraeducators, bus drivers and monitors.

Paraeducators, as well as bus drivers and monitors, received significant pay increases, with the vast majority of paras seeing a 10 to 18 percent bump in January. Those not receiving an increase in January will be receiving a salary step advancement in August, if applicable.

Bus drivers and monitors received a step advancement in addition to wage increases on their regular salary schedule — 50 cents per hour for drivers and $1.25 per hour for monitors on every step.

MCSD Director of Human Resources Nora Ryan said examining pay rates on a regular basis is important so that the district not only remains competitive in the labor market, but also keeps up with rising inflation.

“We want to make sure that we’re being competitive, we’re keeping up with inflation and that we’re recognizing our employees financially as much as we are able to. We obviously always have to be concerned with what our budget is and what we can feasibly and responsibly allocate to salaries, but we want to do our best to reward our employees in that way as well,” Ryan said.

Superintendent Theron Schutte said that in order to be competitive, they looked at what surrounding districts and similarly sized districts are paying their staff. Recently, they have been examining what other positions in the community outside of education are paying their employees.

“Really, it’s to try to provide a fair and appropriate wage while also providing a competitive wage, so hopefully people will seriously consider coming to work for the school district,” Schutte said.

In addition to paraeducators, bus drivers and monitors, the building and grounds staff, as well as full-time mechanics, also received a step advancement in addition to a 25 cent per hour increase on each step. All other employee groups received raises of varying amounts, depending on where each individual was in their career and what their education level was.

Ryan said the feedback from staff members about their pay increases has been positive, and employees are appreciative of the raises they have received. Skyrocketing inflation, however, has made trying to keep up difficult for the school district.

“The downside is, with that rate of inflation going up — you know, it’s not as though this is life changing, but we’ve definitely received emails from staff saying ‘Thank you, we see that you’re trying, we know you are limited based on the funding you get from the state and if we have declining enrollment, we know you’re limited, but it’s appreciated.’ So hearing positive things while still hearing and understanding that, you know, it’s not the end all to fix all of society’s financial woes,” Ryan said. “But definitely, I’ve heard a lot of thanks.”

In addition to wage increases, the school district has also put sign-on bonuses in place for certain positions to try to entice job seekers to look within the MCSD.

“It’s kind of crazy times. Everybody is short staffed. Everybody is trying to figure out how best to leverage getting quality employees to help their organization run as smoothly as possible,” Schutte said.

According to Ryan, there currently isn’t enough data to say for certain if the higher wages have increased the number of job applicants, but the MCSD recently removed the cap on years of experience honored for new teaching staff, which Ryan was confident had an impact on attracting experienced teachers to fill open teaching positions.

The MCSD has a salary schedule for staff members, and in the past, the most experience the district could honor for new teachers was 10 years, regardless of how many years of experience a teacher had. Now, if a teacher with over 10 years of experience is hired, each additional year is honored right away in terms of pay.

“I believe that has been successful in bringing on some really experienced teachers, because they know that they are getting every year awarded on the salary schedule. So for the teaching staff, I think that raising that cap with the years of experience that we honor has definitely helped for some experienced teachers,” Ryan said.

The removal of the honored experience cap makes the MCSD stand out, as Ryan said most other school districts still have it in place.

Whether through wage increases or other strategies, the MCSD is working tirelessly to not only support the current staff that they employ, but also appeal to future employees so that they can provide the highest quality of education they can to the students and families they serve.


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