Baker City, Ore – This week, Baker Education Association members voted to accept a revised educator salary schedule that was ultimately ratified by the Baker School District Board during a public meeting today, Tuesday, February 14, 2023.
This comes over a month ahead of planned negotiations and represents a truly radical shift from the traditional schedule utilized across the State of Oregon to a 4-tier professional approach to compensation that begins at $60,000 per year, the wage proposed by House Bill 2690 as a fair wage for educators.
The revised salary schedule essentially skips to the top 4 tiers of the traditional schedule, recognizing the level of education and skill required to serve as a licensed educator. The top end of the schedule remains largely the same, with a necessary cost of living adjustment to reflect the shift in costs since the prior contract negotiation.
Baker School District leadership looked at financial modeling exclusive of any potential retained revenue from sponsorship of Baker Charter Schools and determined that this shift is financially sustainable. The District has a current reserve large enough to make the initial investment in this shift and maintain financial stability going forward.
District leadership, from the school board to the executive and administrative teams, is committed to their goals of implementing an effective talent management strategy that attracts and supports an exceptional staff, advocating for policies and funding that benefit the district and serve the broader community, and contributing to cultural vitality and economic sustainability. Current priorities for the 2023-24 budget also align with the focus on investing in the maintenance of a highly qualified, highly skilled staff to best support our students and families.
“We couldn’t have made this important move if not for the school board members and other district leadership who came before us and put us in a financial position to make this decision,” says Board Chair Julie Huntington. “We are thrilled to be able to support our students and community through this investment in our educators.”
“This is an investment as much, or more, about the retention of the amazing teaching staff we have in Baker as it is about recruiting new teachers to Baker,” says Superintendent Erin Lair. “We expect this investment to have big returns for not just our teachers directly, but for the district as a whole, for our students and families, for our local economy.”
“We also recognize that we are a district in a uniquely strong financial position to be able to make this shift right now,” continues Superintendent Lair. “We are hopeful that State focus on teacher shortages will encourage revenues to be directed toward similar models of redefining how we think of compensation in education. Oregon has an opportunity with the unprecedented corporate kicker this year to give the initial infusion of funding needed for this shift, which becomes more easily sustainable after the initial years of implementation.”
According to Representative Mark Owens of House District 60, “Recruitment and retention of quality educators poses a unique challenge in rural Oregon, and I am pleased to support this move toward a professional wage for educators that will have a far-reaching positive effect. I look forward to being an advocate for the resources that will allow other school districts the opportunity to make this same shift.”
“We are eager to pave the way for the State to see how proper compensation can build an even stronger district,” says Baker Education Association President Toni Myers.
Baker School District also ratified significant wage increases for classified staff during last year’s negotiations with Oregon School Employees Association, and those increases are also in line with the fair wages currently outlined in House Bill 2690 for classified staff.
About the Baker School District
Nationally recognized Baker School District 5J (BSD) is a major employer in Baker City, OR, serving 1,700 students locally with an additional 3,000 online students across the state of Oregon. Through enterprising, collaborative endeavors, BSD is creating an innovative educational foundation for future Oregonians. BSD believes strong school collaboration with local partners enables us to create vibrant communities that support lifelong learners.