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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 27th, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 51 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 51

Santa Maria-Bonita staffers get a raise

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s salaried employees are going to get a sweet bump on their next paychecks.

That bump will come in the form of a 3 percent raise, which is retroactive as of July 2012, giving employees seven months of backdated pay to look forward to. The school board voted 5-0 in favor of the ongoing raise on Feb. 13, initiating the first permanent raise since the 2007-2008 school year.

Last year, 2011-2012, the district gave its employees a one-time 2.5 percent raise. That essentially meant employees were back to no raise at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.

District Spokesperson Maggie White said the district and its employees agreed to the one-time raise because they weren’t sure state funding would give them what they needed in the future.

“No district can commit to something that, two or three years down the road, they can’t afford,” White explained.

She said the recent 3 percent increase wouldn’t be possible without Proposition 30, which passed in November 2012, and raised California’s sales tax from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent and created four new high-income tax brackets to help pay for education and public safety.

Proposition 30 and the district’s continued enrollment increases gave Santa Maria-Bonita leaders the confidence they needed to grant their employees a permanent raise.

“If Prop. 30 had not passed,” White said, “there would have been some massive cuts.”

The cuts would have meant $6.5 million needed to be erased from the district’s budget. Instead, the district is able to add $2 million to its budget in the form of higher pay for around 1,300 of its employees.

Santa Maria Elementary Education Association (SMEEA) President Nanci Iarossi said teachers’ last big raise was a 5 percent increase in 2007-2008. That was just before the state’s budget went below ground and school districts were forced to tighten their purse strings.

“We were just happy that during those days there were no furlough days and didn’t have to give compensation back [to the district],” Iarossi said. “You know it’s still tough times in many places.”

She said the association is planning to go back to the table with the district at the start of the next fiscal year in June and that many teachers she’s spoken with were surprised by the news.

“We’re very fortunate,” Iarossi said. “I think everyone was very pleased. I haven’t heard any complaints.”