County education officials on Thursday approved a proposal that would increase the salaries of teachers at Castle Rock Charter School.

Charter school teachers will see a 7 percent increase in their per-student pay. Their hourly pay for professional development, parent-teacher conferences and staff meetings will increase to $39.80 per hour. However, they will not be compensated for eight hours of staff meetings and professional development per month and two days of professional development per year.

As a result, the overall salary increase will be about 3.5 percent, according to Jeff Napier, assistant superintendent of business and Castle Rock's former principal. According to the proposal, the salary increases will result in an estimated additional expenditure in Castle Rock's budget of $38,000 per year.

"Currently they get paid hourly for everything other than just meeting with their student, and so the trade-off (for the salary increase) is they won't be paid for eight hours a month or for the two days of professional development," Napier said.

According to Superintendent of Schools Don Olson, the County Office of Education had paid about $128,000 in hourly rates to charter school teachers attending staff meetings and professional development sessions.

"Even though this is an increase in salaries, you'll no longer be paying the $128,000," he said.

Castle Rock teachers, unlike those with the Del Norte County Unified School District, are paid on a per-student basis, Napier said. Under the California State Teacher Retirement System, a full-time equivalent teacher at Castle Rock has a caseload of 24 students. Their salary range varies, Napier said.

Castle Rock teachers' hourly rate used to be $34, Napier said.

District teachers, who are members of the Del Norte Teachers Association, are salaried employees and attend staff meetings and professional development as part of their contracts, Napier said. They are also members of the State Teacher Retirement System, he said.

Castle Rock Principal Suzie Dooley said she noticed about a $7,000 difference between DNTA member salaries and Castle Rock teacher salaries.

"We wanted our teachers doing the same things professionally as other teachers in the county," she said.

Even with the salary increase, a charter school teacher at the top of his or her salary schedule will make about $66,000 a year, according to Dooley. District teachers at the top of their salary schedule make about $70,000 a year, she said.

Castle Rock Charter School is a dependent charter school under the Del Norte County Office of Education. The County Board of Education, which also serves as the district's Board of Trustees, is responsible for employing Castle Rock Charter School teachers.

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