Needles School District Employees Given Raises

NEEDLES — While teachers and other district employees in the Victor Valley Union High School District were preparing to lose their jobs or accept substantial pay and benefit cuts so that district can avoid a takeover by the state, 175 miles across the desert teachers in the smaller Needles Unified School District are about to receive five percent across-the-board pay raises approved by the school board on December 19.
The revenue for the pay hikes will come from money coming to the district by way of Proposition 30, which was approved by voters statewide in November.
While many parents in the district and others expressed concern that the district should use the entirety of the Proposition 30 windfall for education improvements such as class size reductions, reading programs, library enlargement, increasing electives at the high school, buying books for the middle and elementary school libraries, increasing Regional Occupational Program classes at the high school, and rehiring previously laid off teacher aides at the elementary level, district superintendent Mike Davitt said the district could legally utilize the money for upping teacher salaries despite the way in which Proposition 30’s promoters had emphasized in ads that went to voters that the proposition was intended to shore up educational resources that had been cut back because of the statewide budget crunch.
Davitt said teachers deserved the raises the district is now able to give them, since they have stuck by the district over the last four years when raises could not be afforded.
Nearly half of the Proposition 30 money, which is to come from temporary tax increases, will be utilized for yet-to-be-determined school improvement programs.

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