BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Batesville School Board has approved a larger raise for its teachers this year after multiple efforts by the school district to save money and be more efficient.
The board approved a 1.25% raise for all contracted employees for the 2018-19 school year.
"When you give a percentage you are able to hit the step raises whether it's your experience and your degrees plus it also then affects the base," Batesville Superintendent Dr. Michael Hester said.
He said that will mean raises from about $1,000 to $1,300 raises depending on the teacher.
For the past three years, raises for employees have been at 1%, but this year, the school has committed to reducing its footprint and cutting energy costs.
It is doing that by rearranging grades to eliminate two campuses.
The district also had an energy audit done and has already begun making changes to save on utility costs, including adding solar panels to the high school campus.
"We hope to send a message to our staff because this is my first year, this represents some huge changes, and this trust of did they mean what they said," Hester said. "Our board, our administrative leadership, we mean what we said in that when we find the resources we want to attract and retain our staff."
At the beginning of the process, Dr. Hester recognized that Batesville ranked fourth out of five Independence County schools when it came to teacher pay and he pledged to change that.
"When we say students first, which is our motto, one of the best things you can do for students is [take care of] who spends time with that child every day," Hester said. "Our teachers spend more time than parents will with kids and so it's so important that the person we have with that student is the one that can help them grow to their full potential."
And he said that takes being able to offer a good pay for good teachers.