Pendleton Co. board agrees to increase pay in district salary schedule, although some agreed "a bit nervously" due to concerns about the options for covering the costs...

Falmouth Outlook, June 6, 2017

Salary schedule gets school board approval

by Ed Salerno

Board Chairwoman, Dr. Shawn Nordheim, speaking about the proposed 2017-18 salary schedule for both certified and classified employees at the May 30, 2017, Pendleton County School Board meeting stated, “I am a firm believer that our students are only as good as what they are taught. Teachers, as well as their parents, have the greatest impact on a student’s life. It takes a team effort to educate our children. It is not only the teacher that has this lasting impact. Our classified employees are just as important. Our bus drivers get our students home safely every day, our food service workers provide nutritious meals for our students, our custodians make sure the schools are disinfected to keep our students healthy. All of our employees, whether they are certified or classified, deserve to feel valued. How they feel valued is by fair and equitable compensation. These proposed pay scales are by no means perfect, but they are a step in the right direction. We (finance committee) did the best we could with the limited revenue we have.”

“First, the cell values are not being decreased which has been done in the past. This practice of decreasing cell values widens the gap between our employees pay compared to nearby districts. Second, the ‘big bump’ is being held at 25 years so that teachers in the 25 year Rank I cell can finally see this pay and its effect on their pension. Third, roughly $1,000 is being added to each of the cells in the Certified Rank III for years 1 through 10 (the time allowed to get a masters). This would be approximately a 2.5% increase to those cells. This is a step in the right direction because these cells were being eroded the most in the past four years.”

“I acknowledge it is probably near the limits at which we can afford. However, it is what we need to do to keep talent in our district and be more competitive with surrounding districts.”

Also speaking in favor of this new salary schedule was Board member Karen Delaney who said, “However, not to remedy the issues at hand and complete the conversion to a new salary schedule, only delays the inevitable, more quality teachers leaving to take jobs in better paying districts around us. Not to act is to kick the proverbial can down the road. And each time we do that the can gets
bigger. The inequities within the cells will remain and the disparity with surrounding districts will grow. Our staff loses, our students lose, we as a community lose. To grow our community - housing and industry - we must have quality and progressive schools. I go back to earlier statements in which I said to do this we must reward and retain the staff we have and we must attract new personnel to come and serve in our county.”

Delaney continued, “To do all this, the board is going to have to consider ways to raise revenue including the 4% property tax, especially in the face of recent cuts just this year by state government of $30,000 for preschool, $90,000 from federal funding and decreased enrollment.”

Board members Elmer Utz and Jodi Bertram expressed serious concerns about raising taxes. They still believe there are cuts that can solve the financial burdens that the new salary schedule presents.

In the end however, all voted for it, albeit some a bit nervously.

In other business, the board also approved the tentative 2017-18 budget along with payroll dates, contracts for psychological services, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech.

The board approved the expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision for Sharp Middle School and Pendleton County High School. This program provides free lunch and breakfast for all students. This will not do away with the fees in place.

Also noted at this meeting, Matt Shafer, former PCHS assistant principal, has been moved up to take Chad Simms place as principal. Shafer then presented a new program at PCHS called NaviGo. This program will provide an additional 24 minute period in the daily schedule to put all students in career clusters and mentor them throughout their high school education. It will help them see that the jobs they want to do require training and in most cases schooling beyond high school, be it trade school or college. Every teacher and administrator in the building will be engaged with students during this 24 minutes of each day. Shafer also pointed out following his presentation that PCHS graduated 100% of their seniors this year. A major milestone.

The meeting adjourned.

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