Arkansas Issue 5, increasing minimum wage pay for workers statewide goes into effect on January 1st, 2019. For Deborah Brumley and her team at Westside High School’s cafeteria, that pay increase is well-deserved.
“There’s the cleaning…there’s the prep work on the food,” says Brumley. “So it takes all ten of us to work as a team…to get prepared, and to get the food out.”
The issue 5 minimum wage increase requires that workers receive a dollar-per-hour pay raise. Going from $8.50 to $9.50 an hour. In 2020, minimum wage pay increases to $10 an hour, and in 2021, it moves to $11 an hour. Brumley sees it as a good recruitment tool for cafeteria crew.
“They won’t be coming in and leaving for better opportunities….because we’ll have them here,” adds Brumley.
While the pay hikes are beneficial for paraprofessionals, custodians and other staff, Superintendent for Westside Schools Scott Gauntt say the district will now have to adjust budgets, and potentially make cuts in order to fund those pay raises.
“It will start to affect a lot of our salary schedules. Without additional funding…that money must come from somewhere,” explains Gauntt. “Therefore, we’ll be sitting down with our budgets…sitting down with our building principles, and we’ll have to scale those budgets back to cover the additional salary increases.”
It’s a pinch that westside school officials will likely feel more of, as time progresses.
Gauntt adds, that “we’ll have half a year under one salary schedule…and another half of the year for us in another salary schedule. So, it takes a bit of planning on our part to address our salary issue.”
He says ultimately the focus for all budget decisions, is doing what’s best for Westside.