Alpine student takes trip to State Geography Bee

Alpine Elementary School

WHITE MOUNTAINS — Teachers across the White Mountains can look forward to pay raises as a result of the historic demonstrations and teacher walk-outs that occurred across Arizona this spring as part of the #RedforEd movement. Some teachers have already seen a bump in their pay, and other will get raises when they step back into their classrooms this fall.

The dollars for the raises comes from increased education funding in the state budget passed by the legislature and signed off on by Gov. Doug Ducey. School districts may use the additional state funding in any way they see fit; however, nearly all have allocated the funding for the pay raises teachers requested, and pay raises for other school staff.

The Independent has been reaching out to White Mountain school districts, one-by-one to find out how much additional funding they received and how they plan to disperse the funding. This is the third part in a series.

Here’s the breakdown for Alpine, Heber-Overgaard, Round Valley, Sequoia Village School, McNary and Whiteriver school districts. Also included are some area Tribal and Bureau of Indian Education schools.

Alpine Elementary District (AED) — Alpine, a school with about 60 students and six teachers, received additional state funding of $21,239. “It all went to teachers’ salaries,” says Superintendent Shirley Brazel. “The increase was seven percent per teacher,” she added.

Teachers can expect to see a pay raise for the new school year.

Heber/Overgaard Unified School District # 6 (HOUSD) — The district received an additional $170,404 from state funding, according to the Arizona Education Project website.

The entry level teacher base salary was raised from $30,000 to $35,000 said District Business Manager Brenda Samon, on behalf of Superintendent Ron Tenney. In addition, teachers received step increases ranging from $250 to $1,000 depending on longevity.

“The district also increased our administrative base salary schedule by $5,000,” said Samon. “The administrative staff also received step increases of $1,300. The least amount a teacher received was $5,250 and the most was $6,000,” explained Samon.

The district also said that the classified staff salary schedule was restructured to $11.50 per hour and then raises were added based on years of service. Employees with 10 or more years received a $1.00 per hour increase; employees with five to 9 years received $.75 cents per hour increase; employees with zero to four years of service, received $.50 cents per hour increase and bus drivers received $1.50 per hour up to $2.23 per hour pay increases depending on their experience (the starting bus driver pay was $13.50 per hour).

All Heber/Overgaard staff raises went info effect on July 1.

Round Valley Unified School District (RVUSD) — The Round Valley district received about $471,068in additional funding, said Business Manager Cass Pond on behalf of Superintendent Travis Udall.

The average teacher salary will go from $43,093 annually to $46,485 annually based on this amount, according to Pond.

Classified staff also received a salary increase, although the district did not offer any details. Classified staff may receive additional raises as the year goes on.

Teachers will receive an addendum to their contracts and can expect to see an increase in their paycheck upon return to school in August.

McNary Elementary District (MED) — McNary Elementary, is a public school and receives state funding. The school is located in the town of McNary on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation, serves grades K-8. The district received $38,208 in additional state education funding.

“We bumped our base salary schedule by $2,800 and they received their step increase on top of that plus a $2,500 sign on bonus,” says Business Manager Janet Fenderson. “Our salary base for certified teachers use to be $28,700 and now it’s $31,500,” she added.

Fenderson said that all classified staff also received their step increase plus the $1,500 sign on bonus. Teacher aides, the school secretary, the student information specialist and part-time cafeteria workers are examples of classified staff at McNary.

Whiteriver Unified School District (WUSD) — Whiteriver Unified School District is a public school and receives state funding. The district includes Cradleboard, Seven Mile and Whiteriver Elementary Schools as well as Canyon Day Junior High School and Alchesay High School.

According to the Arizona Education Project website, Whiteriver district received $585,823 in additional funding. However, the district office did not respond to inquiries from The Independent regarding how the funds would be dispersed.

Tribal schools

Theodore Roosevelt School and John F. Kennedy Day School, located on the Ft. Apache Indian Reservation, are both owned and operated by the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Tribally-owned schools don’t receive federal Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) grants, state education funding or Arizona state retirement. Tribally-operated schools don’t fall under the same Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) category as Cibecue.

“We don’t receive any state funding although our money is passed through the BIE,” explains Theodore Roosevelt School Principal, Marla Wilkerson. “We are a tribally-owned school and we report directly to the tribal council every six months,” she added.

Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools

These schools are different than tribally-owned and operated schools in that they receive their funding directly through grants administered by the Bureau of Indian Education.

The Bureau of Indian Education falls under the Bureau of Indian Affairs which is within the Department of the Interior. These grants utilize a formula to calculate school funding based on Average Daily Membership.

Dishchiibikoh Community School District (DCSD), located southwest of the central Cibecue community area, is a BIE-funded district. It serves approximately 400 Native American students between the ages of four years to 21 years in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“We are not a public school which means we did not receive any funding allocation from the state legislature,” says Superintendent Marilou Areno. “Instead, Dishchiibikoh Community School receives grants from the Bureau of Indian Education.

“I have not seen the salary scale of the other schools, however, we made significant adjustment to ensure that our staff are well compensated,” says Areno.

Reach the reporter at

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government and Show Low Unified School District.

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