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Fort Washakie upping teacher base to $50K; first in county to hit threshold

May 3, 2015 By Christina George, Staff Writer

The Fremont County School District 21 Board of Trustees has approved raising base salaries to $50,000 for teachers in Fort Washakie.

The move represents a $3,125 increase in base pay for the district, which already offers the highest salaries in Fremont County for first-year instructors.

Superintendent Terry Ebert said the compensation is intended to attract top-notch teachers to Fort Washakie schools.

"Educational research is very clear that the thing that impacts student learning the most is the classroom teacher," Ebert said.

"Knowing that to be the case, it makes sense to be as competitive as possible when we are looking for classroom teachers."

Other districts

Salaries offered this year by the seven other school districts in Fremont County range from $42,664 in Shoshoni, up to $46,631 at Wind River, according to the Wyoming School Boards Association.

Others include Lander at $43,400, Arapahoe at $43,683, Dubois at $44,150, Riverton at $45,800 and Wyoming Indian at $46,250.

External funds

Some districts in Fremont County plan to use external funds to raise pay. The Wyoming Legislature this year approved a budget amendment that will provide a cost of living pay increase for teachers.

In Lander, those extra dollars will be used to increase first-year pay for teachers to $44,200, superintendent Kathy Hitt said.

Wyoming Indian superintendent Michelle Hoffman said her district will use the funding to offer $47,000 for first-time teachers.

Hoffman said it can be harder for rural districts like Wyoming Indian to compete for teachers, because funding is driven by student population.

"But with increasing (salaries) what we can and picking up benefits, we can attract just as highly-qualified teachers as anyone else," she said. "Our district does a really good job taking care of staff."

Other local districts, like Shoshoni, haven't approved next year's salary scale.

"We don't have finalized numbers of what our budget will be next year yet," Fremont County School District 24 superintendent Bruce Thoren said.

Other factors

Fremont County School District 25 superintendent Terry Snyder said Riverton is developing a proposal that he hopes to take to his board by the end of the current school year.

"We anticipate we are going to be able to have an increase," Snyder said.

He doesn't believe the district's pay scale impacts Riverton's ability to attract good teachers.

"Our salaries are competitive," Snyder said.

He noted that salaries aren't the only draw for prospective employees - teachers also consider the size of the district as well as professional development opportunities and the types of positions available.

Hitt shared similar feelings. She says teachers often are attracted to the Lander community's small-town atmosphere and recreational opportunities.

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