By Greg Bird
The McCreary County Board of Education approved a new salary schedule for the coming school year that will include raises for several classified positions, with the intent of bringing wages up to at least “average” and competitive when compared to similar sized school districts.
Along with Superintendent Sonny Fentress and District finance personnel, the Board compared the salary schedules of 15 comparable districts to find an average wage for certain positions. That average was contrasted with the McCreary County salary schedule to see where the McCreary pay rate ranked.
In instances where the salary fell below the bottom half of those compared, minor adjustments were made to at least bring those to the top half. According to the current School District salary schedule most employees hired at an annual rate receive a small salary increase after each year of service.
Last year the Board of Education approved a 2-percent raise for all employees.
Some of the raises approved include a 7-cent per hour increase for Lead Custodians after they reach 14-years of service, which would bring the salary to $13.22 per hour. Custodians will also see an increase of 8-cents per hour after 11 years of service, bringing that position to $11.49 per hour.
Cooks will see the biggest impact from the increases as the Board approved a 10-cent per hour increase for each of the first three years of service, and additional 10-cent per hour raises every two to three years.
Discussion was held on possibly increasing the raise to 15-cents per hour. Such a move needed a closer examination, the Board was told, as all Food Service salaries are paid through monies received through the federal food service program. Finance Officer Michelle King told the Board she would look at including the additional pay in the budget and report back if it was feasible.
Bus drivers, who already saw a 50-cent per hour increase of salary earlier this year, were approved for another 50-cent hourly raise.
Bus drivers have been a difficult position for the District to fill as many qualified drivers seek employment elsewhere with higher paying positions.
While not increasing teachers pay, the Board did approve adding three additional years to the rank increases, meaning teachers who work more than 27 years will see rank increases up to year 30. It is hoped that the move will encourage teachers to work beyond 27-years, keeping trained and qualified teachers in the system.
Finance Officer Michelle King stated Tuesday that the raises approved Monday night would affect about 125 employees and cost the District approximately $90,000. Of that $90,000, about $60,000 will go toward bus drivers.
Administrative salaries were not addressed Monday night, as the Board tabled the discussion until next month, as there were still details to be worked out. Board Chair Dustin Stephens assured the administrators in attendance that they would be “happy” with the new salary schedule once approved.
Board member Lori Foster stated there were other positions she wished to look at and requested to hold a budget working session to see what impact any additional raises would have on the budget.
The budget for the upcoming school year is to be finalized next month, and must be sent to the Kentucky Department of Education by May 31.
In other actions Monday the Board approved spending an additional $24,500 on the roof repair project at the high school. It was explained that over 5,000 “bubbles” had been found on the roof, where the covering had separated from the roof. The repairs will be guaranteed for 20 years.
The Board also approved changing audit firms, hiring White and Company out of Lebanon at an annual cost of $20,500 per year. For the last 10 years the annual audit had been performed by White and Associates, a Richmond firm. The KDE recommends Boards change auditing companies every so often to get a new perspective on their finances.
With the increased pre-school classroom space being allocated due to the realignment of schools in the District, the Board approved a tuition procedure for next year that will allow for more pre-school students to attend classes starting next year.
Assistant Superintendent Aaron Anderson stated that in the past, with limited space available, the pre-schools were able to take most children who qualified for free instruction – with their cost being paid through federal and state grants and incentives.
Now, with room for more students, the District will not need to turn away any student. Some of the new students who do not qualify for free tuition, due to their family’s economic status, will have to pay approximately $12 per day to attend classes. That cost is significantly lower than most day-care options, and includes transportation, meals and after school activities.
The next meeting of the McCreary Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, May 20 at 6:30 p.m.