Bentonville School District Approves Pay Increase for Most Employees

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Bentonville School District employees will see a fatter pay check. The salary increase was approved unanimously tonight by the school board. It’s a 2.25% pay increase for all employees, except bus drivers.

Financial director Sterling Ming said the reason is to remain competitive in the job market.

A local consulting group compared the district's salaries to other school districts in Northwest Arkansas. The group actually suggested a 3% pay increase but the school district decided to keep it at 2.25%.

Ming said the money to pay for the raises comes from 1st semester student growth. The school district had 549 new students, translating to about $2 million. The raise will be back dated to July 1ST, 2011, meaning employees would receive an extra sum of money.

Ronnie flowers, president of the Bentonville Teachers Association, said pay raises will help them in tough economy.

"Anyone can enjoy a pay raise and so 2.25% will put back at least $500 and possibly close to $1000 back in the pocket of teachers,” flowers said.

“I’m sure the teachers are very appreciative with this raise,” he added.

Lisa St. John, Apple Glenn Elementary school principal, said "I think it's awesome... it’s a good way to reward them for their hard work."

The salary increase will cost the district $1.8 million a year.

One board member said he received several emails about the bad timing of the raise since Bentonville is asking residents for a mileage increase for a new school. However, school officials said they can afford the pay raises.