GILBERT, Ariz. — Two weeks after laying off 152 teachers, Gilbert Public Schools is raising salaries of those who will get a contract for next year.
The district laid off those teachers because student enrollment dropped by 1,600 students this year.
Raises set to come next fiscal year
On Tuesday, Gilbert Public Schools’ Governing Board approved a 2% ongoing pay raise for most employees starting the fiscal year 2022 and a 3% stipend.
The stipend is set to come from federal grant money, that has yet to be allocated to the district. According to the board meeting documents, half of the stipend will be delivered in December of 2021 and the other half in June of 2022.
According to the district’s budget presentation, the 2% raise will cost the district about $4.4 million.
The district saved $4.5 million for the next fiscal year because of the layoffs.
“We recognize how it looks to some but it is part of an ongoing plan,” Governing Board member Reed Carr said at the meeting.
District: Raises are to help keep competitive salaries
A spokesperson for Gilbert Public Schools told 12 News the raises were to help keep a competitive salary for their staff.
Adding in a statement:
“The reduction in force was directly related to loss in student enrollment which resulted in fewer staff positions needed. A number of factors, including the reduction in force, resulted in funds that can be utilized to balance the budget. A part of the budget, as reflected in the district Strategic Plan, is providing competitive salaries for all staff.”
“We have to align our teaching, our staffing, to students numbers,” Carr said. “The other is we have to remain competitive with neighboring districts.”
Gilbert Education Association President Amber Franco said the raises and the layoffs are two separate pieces.
“It is really hard to watch it all as it’s playing out, but we have to remain competitive in the East Valley,” Franco said.
The decision isn’t sitting well with some teachers
Angela Philpot is an ELL teacher in Gilbert currently but was laid off as part of the reduction in force.
“I didn’t think being laid off could be any worse,” Philpot said.
Philpot is currently looking for positions elsewhere but is shocked by the board’s decision to issue raises.
“It’s just really hard to hear,” Philpot said.
Robin Dodder also teaches in the district. She’s been told she’ll receive a contract for next year.
“It might seem like a nice thing but at the same time it’s a slap in the face to our colleagues who were let go and it’s a punch in the gut to those who remain,” Dodder said.