Officials hope to set salaries

Collaborative Bargaining Team to reconvene when school starts

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Steamboat Springs School District officials hope that salaries for Steamboat teachers and staff will be finalized within weeks after the school year begins this fall.

A salary package proposed to district employees in June was voted down, but the Colla--borative Bargaining Team plans to reconvene during the first week of school. A new package could be agreed upon quickly, possibly after that first meeting, Superintendent Donna Howell said.

"I'm hopeful that we can do it in a very, very short period of time," she said.

After there is a new package, it will be brought to teachers and staff for another vote. Any changes to salaries would be applied retroactively.

Brad Kindred, president of the Steamboat Springs Educ--ation Association, said it would have been better to negotiate during the summer, but some members of the CBT were not available.

In hindsight, the failure of the package last June is positive, Kindred said. Packages should be as equitable as possible for all employees, and the proposed package was not, he said.

One problem employees had with the package was that 12 of the 104 support staff members were given only a 1 percent to 2 percent salary increase, compared with an average 4 percent salary increase for support staff districtwide.

Giving those employees a more substantial raise could cost almost $8,000, officials estimated.

Kindred said that if those 12 employees could receive a bigger raise, the package likely would pass.

"I think that we're willing to negotiate, and from all indications, the administration is willing to negotiate," he said.

Another reason that employees cited for not supporting the package was a new policy for annual leave, Howell said. The new policy outlines that annual leave is meant to be used when someone is sick or has other extenuating circumstances.

"If we can resolve these as a group and then take it back for a vote, I'm hoping we could get a package passed within the first couple weeks of school," Howell said.

After the CBT finalizes a package and that package is approved by school district staff, the CBT will begin working on a proposal for next year.

-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com

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