During the April 11 meeting, the board approved the preliminary 2013-2014 budget, which includes a 2 percent salary increase for approximately 1,300 district employees.
This year's state budget mandates a 1 percent salary increase for educators. The school district, though, is financially healthy enough to add another 1 percent, said Randy Bondow, the district's assistant superintendent of finance.
"People haven't had raises in the last four years, and we felt like we needed to give them something extra," Bondow said.
At the April 11 board meeting, Tibbetts Middle School shop teacher James Horvath requested the board consider a 3 percent raise, saying that the cost of living increases has eaten into employees' budgets.
"I think it's nice, but, unfortunately, we're not going to notice anything," said Horvath in an interview on Wednesday. "All it's going to cover is our insurance prices going up."
The issues with educator funding mainly reside at the state level, said Horvath, the National Educators Association representative for Farmington schools.
"They are not putting the right money into the right spots," Horvath said. "A lot of money is designated to be spent and not left at the district level. The district can figure out where best to put it and help pay higher salaries."
The 2 percent salary raise is intended to help staff members with increases in medical and dental insurance premiums and pension payments to the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board.
Beginning next school year, employees will see medical insurance payments increase 6.6 percent, dental insurance increase 3 percent and pension payments increase up to 10 percent.
Bondow said the 2 percent salary increase should help most employees cover the increases in insurance premiums and pension payments.
"When we looked at the 1 percent (increase), it's not really covering the cost in pension and medical," Bondow said. "With the 2 percent, it'll help cover (the costs) a little bit better."
Horvath said he was happy with the district's efforts to increase salaries but said he is skeptical about how far the money will go.
"As far as a superintendent goes, (Janel Ryan) works well with us," Horvath said. "It's nice we get a little extra, but, once again, with the cost of gas and food continuing to go up, we're still going in the hole at this point."
The board will vote today on whether to move forward with the proposed $72.9 million budget for the 2013-14 school year budget. The budget includes an increase of $5.3 million from the budget for the current school year, which is at $67.6 million.
Total revenue for the 2013-14 school year is expected to hit $69.7 million, leaving a $3.1 million deficit from total expenses. Bondow said that deficit will be covered by a cash balance that the district maintains.
Also approved during the April 11 board meeting were 25 new positions for the school district, 21 of which are earmarked for teachers. Bondow said the 21 teachers will be assigned to schools throughout the district. The assignments will be based on projected enrollment.
Joshua Kellogg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 505-564-4627. Follow him on Twitter @JKelloggDT.