SIERRA VISTA — The Sierra Vista Unified Education Association‘s proposal for a flat-rate increase to teacher salaries rather than a 1.5% increase based on educators’ base salary was approved by the Sierra Vista Unified School District Governing Board at Tuesday’s meeting.

Leslie Nogales, eighth-grade English teacher at Joyce Clark Middle School and chair of the SVUEA meet and confer committee, suggested modifications for the 2021-22 school year.

The SVUEA proposals included staff health and safety, professional staff supplementary pay plans, professional/support staff leaves of absence without pay, meet and confer procedures, class sizes and salary recommendations.

Nogales said a survey that was sent to SVUSD employees in March 2019 showed 67% in favor of having a flat-rate increase to their salaries versus having a 1.5% increase on the base salary amount, which varies depending on an employee’s position and time at the district.

“That was what started the initial conversation in the very beginning when concerns were brought to us with the beginning of the 2020 money, was that it was going to be unfair with the percentages that were going out to these teachers,” said Nogales. “Because teachers who have worked here for a small amount of time versus teachers who have been here longer — we all are working hard and are going through crazy hoops and jumps — and it would be nice to see that we’re all getting that amount of money put into our base pay.”

SVUSD Governing Board President Yulonda Boutte and Vice President Connie Johnson disagreed with the flat rate increase.

“I would think that the fair thing to do, would be to give all those teachers —whether they have been here a long time or short time — figure out how much it would be (with) the 1.5%, and that would be what they would get,” said Johnson. “The teacher who has not been there that long would not get as much; but it seems unfair that you would take the money that the teachers that were here would have got and ... divided it up and just give everyone the same amount.”

By a vote of 3 to 2, the board passed SVUEA’s requests, including the flat pay increase.

The formula for calculating the flat increase takes the district’s 40th day of school Average Daily Membership total multiplied by $32.82, which is then divided by the number of certified professional, non-administrative staff in the district.

The numbers for the calculation come from Gov. Doug Ducey’s 20X2020 plan, which became law in 2018 and provided a 20% increase in teacher pay by 2020.

Nogales said the 40th day ADM totals will be available on Sept. 29. In the past, she said teachers have received an increase of $1,200-$1,300. Support staff and administration are not included in the flat rate and will receive the 1.5% pay increase.

Nogales announced she’s stepping down as chair of the meet and confer committee and that Yolanda Everett, a teacher on special assignment at Town and Country Elementary, will take her place.

“Working alongside a dream team is the best way I can describe these teams,” said Nogales. “We are hard-working, dedicated and professional — giving up our free time to help represent all of our teachers and professional staff in (the) Sierra Vista Unified School District. It has not always been easy, but it is necessary and well worth it, especially when the job is done.”