Board OKs teacher raises

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The South Routt School Board approved salary increases for teachers and principals Thursday despite an anticipated loss of revenue of $20,000 next year.

The School Board's seven members unanimously approved the increases shortly after Sup--erintendent Steve Jones said the district will be able to absorb the revenue shortfall by not filling an elementary school teaching position and a full-time support staff position at the high school.

"I think we're in pretty good shape," Jones said. "The budget came together, and we're going to be OK."

Most district teachers will receive an average raise of about 3 percent, Jones said. The new salary schedule approved by the board includes a $500 base salary increase. All teachers except those who have 30 or more years of experience also will receive $700 step increases.

The district's two principals also will receive a $500 base salary increase. Secondary Principal James Chamberlin and elementary Principal Kim Rabon will receive $500 step increases.

A preliminary budget for the 2005-06 school year includes a 25 cents-per-hour rate increase for district support staff, Jones said.

The district is projecting another year of declining student enrollment that will result in less revenue because of the state's per-pupil funding formula. Jones is predicting a revenue shortfall of about $20,000.

However, by not filling an elementary school teaching position that will be vacant because of a planned teacher retirement and by cutting a full-time support staff position at the secondary level, Jones said the district will be able to absorb the shortfall.

"That gave us quite a bit of flexibility in our budget," Jones said.

Also at Thursday's meeting, School Board members agreed that it would be unfair to ask the operators of a gravel pit near Toponas to decrease the number of trucks on Colorado Highway 131 and Routt County Road 14 during the times of day when South Routt students are being picked up and dropped off by school buses along those roadways.

"I'm concerned that we're going after one entity," board member Bill Babcock said. "That's a state highway. There are all kinds of trucks (on it). I don't think it's anything we can control."

Board member Linda Long suggested the district request that gravel pit operators increase the number of road signs warning drivers of approaching bus stops along the roadways. Board member Kevin Gneiser volunteered to attend Monday's gravel pit meeting in Yampa to express the district's concerns about child safety along the roadways.

Also Thursday:

n Jones told board members that he expects the district will receive a 9.5-acre parcel of land in Stagecoach from the developer of a subdivision there. The Neighborhoods at Young's Peak project is nearing final approval from the Routt County Planning Commission, and part of that approval is likely to include that the developers will donate the land to the school district. The land is appraised at nearly $1 million, Jones said. The district actively pursued a land deal with the developer in hopes that future Stagecoach development will necessitate a new elementary school there.

n The board unanimously approved changes to a benefits policy that clarifies that life insurance coverage caps at $50,000 for district employees. The board also unanimously approved changes to a sick leave policy that will give employees eight sick days and four personal days each year instead of 10 sick days and two personal days each year.

n The board unanimously approved a calendar for the 2005-06 school year that is nearly identical to the calendar used for the current school year.

n The board moved its next meeting from May 19 to May 18.

-- To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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