School salary package passes

Plan wins approval in every school and department

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Steamboat Springs School District employees overwhelmingly approved a revised salary package Thursday.

Two-hundred-ten employees voted, representing about 80 percent of the school district's staff. The package won approval in every school building and every support staff department.

Superintendent Donna Howell said she wasn't surprised that the package was approved.

"I'm just very pleased," she said. "We can move forward and start working on next year's package."

The goal had been to approve a package before the end of the 2004-05 school year. Now, salary increases will be applied retroactively.

What was perhaps more of a surprise was the high turnout. When the first version of the package was voted down in June, about 47 percent of district employees cast a ballot.

Brad Kindred, president of the Steamboat Springs Education Association, had not seen official results of the vote. But he said so much work had been put into the package that he was not surprised to hear it passed.

"We worked so hard on it. This is like a year in the making," he said. SSEA backed the package and encouraged teachers to approve it.

He applauded the efforts of the Collaborative Bargaining Team, whose members devoted hours of time outside of work to hammer out an agreement.

"It's really a thankless job that's essential," Kindred said.

Employees voted down the first package -- proposed at the end of the 2004-05 school year -- for a number of reasons, including that some support staff would have received less than a 2 percent raise.

In the new package, all staff will receive at least a 2 percent raise. All staff members except for administrators also will receive a one-time payment of 1 percent of their salaries.

Teacher salaries will increase an average of 4.88 percent, including a salary step and cost-of-living adjustment, and staff salaries will increase an average of 4.5 percent.

The raises and one-time payment will be given to employees in their November paychecks, as long as the School Board approves the package. When the School Board considers the package at its Monday meeting, it also will consider an identical one-time payment of 1 percent of salary for administrators.

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