By Linda Kor
Despite concerns over budget funds, Joseph City School District officials have made the decision to provide pay increases for employees of the district in order to remain competitive when recruiting new teachers and other staff.
“We have had painful discussions regarding the $400,000 shortfall we’ve experienced and the difficulty in recruiting and replacing certified staff. We’ve worked hard on coming up with a solution for this, and I think this will work,” stated Superintendent Robert Klein during Tuesday’s meeting of the district governing board.
With board approval the base salary on the certified salary schedule and activity/athletic salary schedules were increased to $30,000, with increases to each incremental step on the pay schedule. In addition, the classified staff, food service, management team, and other certificated or licensed professional staff schedules will reflect a three percent increase to each step on those pay schedules.
In making those increases it will cost the district $32,696 to place the existing 25 teachers on the new salary schedule, including benefits. Raises would range from $600 to $1,670 per year, depending on the placement on the new schedule.
It will cost the district $23,397 to place the classified staff on the new schedule, with raises ranging from $200 to $1,400 per year.
Only two administrative staff would receive raises on the new schedule at this time for a total of $3,803, including benefits.
The total of the increased salaries for fiscal year 2014 would be $59,896, which would include benefits. Klein explained that the district has excess prepaid insurance, which would fund these raises after July 1.
These funds have been held in reserve by the district with an eye toward future budget concerns, but the administration felt such measures were needed to ensure that the district remains competitive with other area schools. “We can feel really good about these raises, but we do need to be aware that this will bring us closer and closer to our bottom line,” Klein noted.
Klein also informed the board that the district would be investigating a potential agreement with Ameresco. The company specializes in designing and installing systems to reduce energy use through the use of solar panels. Ameresco will be looking at potential sites at the district in the near future, then an application will be submitted to Arizona Public Service Co., which offers incentives for this type of program.
“This could be done as a lease/purchase program where we lease the equipment for 15 years, then its ours. We wouldn’t be charged any more than we’re paying for utilities now and are guaranteed savings,” explained Klein. He added that the information will be brought back before the board as the project progresses.
The board also authorized changing the call to the public portion of the meeting to include a 30-minute overall time frame, with three minutes allowed per individual. In cases where there are more speakers than the overall time frame allows for, the individual time increments will be reduced.
The board also agreed that during call to the public, the board may not comment on any matter presented by the public. Individuals wishing to address items on the agenda will be allowed to do so before the item is presented. The board can then discuss the item, but no secondary dialogue may take place between the board and the person speaking on the issue.
In other action June 11, the board:
* Approved a budget session date of 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 20.
* Authorized changing the life insurance coverage for retirees to state that coverage will only be available to age 65 when they become Medicare eligible. This change is a result of dramatic increases to individual rates overall due to the age of a number of individuals on the policy.
* Approved the continuation of intergovernmental agreements with the Northern Arizona Vocational Institute of Technology (NAVIT) and Beyond Textbooks.
* Accepted the resignation of Tressa Blake, an instructional aide.
* Approved the appointment of Jillian Brown as assistant pool manager/lifeguard; John Bryant, JCHS athletic director; Kory Castellano, elementary resource instructional aide; Lexi Edwards and Kymber Flake, lifeguards; Joseph Hansen, auto/welding teacher; Kristin Hoppe, fourth grade teacher; Eric Miller, JCHS/JCJHS dean of students; Lillian Neal, JCHS/JCJHS special education teacher; Theresa Van Hemert, substitute cafeteria worker; Laura Vargas, second grade teacher; Mandy Bennett, Mary Davis, Dana Johnstun, Sandra Lewis, Dorothy Morris and Theresa Van Hemert, summer at-will custodians; and Mandy Bennett, Mary Davis, Dana Johnstun, Sandra Lewis, Dorothy Morris, Janella Perkins and Judy Young, fiscal year 2014 substitute custodians.
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By Linda Kor