By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Even though the Howard-Suamico School District has upped the wages of more than 200 employees with the passage of a successful referendum, it is continuing to look at ways to better compensate employees.
After the passage of April’s referendum, the district invested more than $1 million to bring 208 teachers level set to pay similar to peer districts, with the average raise of 2.89 percent.
This created a new salary range of $40,000 to $78,812.
At the Monday, Nov. 19, HSSD school board meeting, Matt Spets, assistant superintendent of operations, reminded the board of the district’s 2020 goal.
By the 2020-21 school year, the district wants to have the best compensated employees, as measured against its financial peers across the state.
The other side of that goal is to have the most knowledgeable employees in understanding their personal finance, starting with their own total compensation.
A handful of dedicated teachers are continuing to work on the district’s compensation committee to make that goal a reality.
“While it provides some (guidelines) in terms of investment in staff in terms of budget and future budgets, at the same time it also speaks to the retaining and recruiting and honoring the good work of our hundreds of employees,” Spets said.
But strictly looking at comparative numbers doesn’t paint the whole picture, Spets said.
For example, in the 2016-17 school year, the average total compensation for a HSSD teacher was $70,582, while that same compensation for an Ashwaubenon teacher was $84,756.
However, the average teacher at that time in Ashwaubenon had more than 16 years of experience; while in the HSSD the average years of experience was just under 12 years.
Using that metric, the average compensation per year, per teacher was $5,264 in Ashwaubenon and $5,982 in the HSSD.
“We do want to have the best compensated employees, but what I can tell you is we’re not $15,000 away on average from Ashwaubenon, using that example,” Spets said. “Yes, we have some room to grow, we’re closer than we think, but we have the team together to look at this.”
Spets introduced who he called the “leaders of the leaders,” those who chair subcommittees on the compensation committee.
Bree Meisinger, Megan Meyers, Luc Richards and Lyzette Maroszek explained to the board what they are doing to continue work on compensation.
Meisinger, Meyers and Maroszek are currently breaking down data from different surveys and teacher interviews to identify trends to use when working out a solution.
Richards works on the data side pulling together all the numbers.
“We’re working on how we’re going to adjust these minimums based on the new data, so that’s one outcome that will happen in the next couple months as we apply investments going into 2020,” Spets said.
He also went on to say the district has a challenge with Governor-Elect Tony Evers, who will have to work with a split state government once he takes office.
“Because we live and work in these uncertain times we can’t predict where this revenue will go year after year,” he said.
Finally, Spets informed the board that the insurance costs for HSSD employees will increase by 19 percent in January.
This comes after copious amounts of research from the compensation committee, he said.