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Denair Unified approves 4 percent salary restoration for employees
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Denair Unified School District employees will see the beginning of long-awaited salary restorations just in time for the holidays, following the Board of Trustees’ approval of a 4 percent salary restoration Thursday evening.


“This is an unbelievable success story unfolding right before everybody’s eyes since 2013 to this day and forward,” said Superintendent Aaron Rosander, who remarked that the restoration was “perfect for the holiday season.”


When the district was on the verge of a State takeover in 2013, salaries for every DUSD employee were reduced by at least 8 percent  and up to 12 percent as part of an effort to bring expenses and revenue into alignment. The lingering effects of the recession and declining enrollment combined to push the district into financial crisis, which required a short-term loan from the Stanislaus County Office of Education and intervention by the California Department of Education.


The 4 percent salary restoration approved Thursday is for certificated, administrative, management and confidential groups and is retroactive to July 1, 2016. This will have a financial impact of $534,113 to the district this year.


"The restoration approved at last night's board meeting was a good step towards restoring the 8 percent pay cut that teachers took three years ago to keep the district financially solvent," said Denair Unified Teachers Association President Linda Richardson. "In order to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, Denair Unified must not only fully restore salaries, but make them competitive with surrounding districts."


Chief Business Officer Linda Covello said employees can expect to see the increase in salary as soon as their November paycheck, and retroactive pay from July 1 to Oct. 31 will be delivered in a “lump sum” on their December paycheck.


“Even though payroll was supposed to close [Thursday], I got an extension to Monday and we’re going to work through the weekend to get the 4 percent on the November paycheck,” said Covello.


In the first interim budget report for 2016-2017, which is from July 1 to Oct. 31 and projects financial activity through June 30, the district is projected to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current fiscal year, as well as the two subsequent fiscal years.


“This is the strongest financial position Denair Unified has been in in many, many years,” said Rosander.


Average Daily Attendance — one of the major components that is used in calculating revenues that the district receives — is estimated at 1,273 district-wide for the 2016-2017 academic year, which is an estimated increase of about 30 from 2015-2016.


“The great news in all of this is as we continue to build programs at that elementary level and push that increased enrollment forward, we will see a growth in ADA year after year,” said Rosander. “That’s a possibility here as we look two three years out.”


With the Board’s approval of the 4 percent salary restoration Thursday evening, Trustee Robert Hodges said that he is hoping to not only grant employees full salary restoration, but to continue to the point where the district can start awarding raises to employees.


“I know it’s a raise from where we’re at, but this just makes us whole to where we were,” said Hodges. “I am committed to going from here and continuing to an actual raise. If it’s there, we want to give it back.”