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PCS talks staffing, salaries

BY Paige Conley - pconley@perutribune.com

The Peru Community Schools Board of Trustees talked budget and staffing during a work session Monday evening.

According to information provided by PCS Chief Operating Officer Stanley Hall, PCS employs more teachers than any other school in the county.

In a set of statistics presented from the 2017 school year, PCS had a total of 132 teachers compared to Maconaquah who employed 126 teachers and North Miami who employed 49 teachers.

Of those teachers, PCS had a student-teacher ratio of 16-to-1, compared to Mac’s student-teacher ratio of 18-to-1.

“For this 16 to go to an even 17, we could have had 14 fewer teachers and still maintained a lower staff ratio to students than everyone else in the county,” Hall said.

In response to the previous year’s numbers, Board of Trustees Vice President Tim Comerford questioned if PCS is considered overstaffed.

“We’re very generous in staffing; that’s my conclusion,” Hall said.

PCS Superintendent Sam Watkins felt otherwise as he voiced his thoughts on the matter to the board.

“We’ve prided ourselves since I’ve been at Peru to have low class size numbers and we pride ourselves to have a lot of services for our kids,” Watkins said.

According to Watkins, the low class size numbers help students succeed in the classroom and has proven to be effective especially in student’s I-READ scores.

“I want to err on having more services and more people for our kids than not,” Watkins said.

Board of Trustees member Greg Quin also advised the group it’s important to look at the student population and not just the total numbers. PCS had a student body of 2,100 and Maconaquah had a student body of 2,300 in 2017.

“Look at our student population,” Quin said. “I think we need more services than the schools around us.” 

In addition to the school’s staff size, Hall was surprised to learn the average teacher salary for PCS employees is on par with North Miami, who has significantly less teachers.

“That’s kind of an eye-opener for me because I assumed our salary schedule and pay were better than North Miami,” Hall said.

In 2017, the PCS average salary range was $47,000 compared to North Miami’s average salary range of $46,000 and Maconaquah sits at $56,000.

The difference in salaries is a topic the board members decided could be attributed to a number of things, including more experienced teachers who have been with the school for several years, or a higher salary schedule.

In two of the three years since Watkins has been Superintendent, staff members have received raises and Watkins feels they’re in good condition to receive another one this year.

“We’re getting a lot of movement between teachers, looking at salary,” Watkins said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re competitive to keep the best qualified staff member in front of our kids.”

PCS is still considering their budget and haven’t made any final decisions yet.