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Duluth School Board rejects pay raise for staff

The Duluth School Board Tuesday night rejected an increase to the Duluth school district's minimum wage beyond what's required by law.

Board members Art Johnston, Alanna Oswald and Harry Welty have advocated for various increases for the hourly workers who include substitute paraprofessionals, food service substitutes and lunchroom and playground monitors who work less than 12.5 hours a week.

The formal proposal by board members was for a 50 cent increase, which would have cost the district $51,000 more a year. Tuesday it was amended to 25 cents by Oswald. The measure did not pass.

Human resources director Tim Sworsky said a 50 cent increase to such wages would lead to salary compression, where the pay of one group of employees is close to another more experienced group. That might make it difficult to fill certain jobs, he said. Any type of increase, he said, also wasn't planned for in the current budget.

Oswald argued that a $25,000 — per a 25 cent raise — annual increase could be seen as similar to budget revisions presented to the board at its monthly meetings, and that most other employees are part of bargaining units, so their wages also include benefits.

The board made more than $3 million in cuts in June to balance the budget.

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