Administrators' payment denied

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The Steamboat Springs School Board on Monday declined a proposal to give administrators a one-time payment of 1 percent of their salaries.

The payment, meant to show appreciation for employees' work, was a condition of a revised salary package for teachers and staff, which the board unanimously approved earlier in the evening.

n The board accepted a gift of $8,300 from the Steamboat Springs Education Fund Board for expansion of probe ware in high school science and math classrooms. The board also accepted Fund Board gifts totaling $20,000 for defibrillators for the Transportation Center, North Routt Charter School, the high school, middle school and elementary schools. n A motion to support Referendum 1B benefiting Horizons Specialized Services failed on a split vote. Stephenson and Gleason voted against the motion, noting that the board has never taken a position about a local issue. They also said the referendum will not affect the district financially as would state referendums C and D, which the board voted to support. n A teacher complained that she was frustrated that computer programs purchased for the classrooms were not up and running. Howell said she was equally disappointed the system was not working at the beginning of the school year and that the district is developing a plan to address an infrastructure problem.

The Collaborative Bargaining Team established the package, which also includes at least a 2.1 percent raise for teachers and staff. Those employees overwhelmingly approved the package last week.

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

A key condition of employees' support this time around was that the one-time payment of 1 percent of salaries not be extended to administrators, said Brad Kindred, president of the Steamboat Springs Education Association.

Administrators received raises when their contracts were approved last spring. The board included a one-time payment of 1-percent of administrators' salaries in the amended budget approved earlier this month.

"This is a very hot-button issue," Kindred said. "If this was in the CBT package, we wouldn't be here tonight. It would have been a deal killer."

Another teacher argued that the payment to administrators was not fair because they have had the opportunity to benefit from their raises through investments and/or interest.

Teacher Michael Johnson, who was involved in the CBT process, said the possibility of extending the payment to administrators was not made apparent in the meetings.

"It looks like there was some discussion we all were not a part of," he said.

Superintendent Donna Howell countered that she had made it clear the payment could apply across the board.

"We worked very hard to build trust among the group ... and I take exception to that," she said.

Board member Jeff Troeger said he planned to vote against the payment for administrators because of an "unfair" benefits package that includes benefits for their families. Teachers and support staff must pay extra for family benefits.

He questioned whether that aspect was considered when comparing administrators' salaries with other similar-sized districts in a market analysis that helps the district determine raises.

A motion to table the issue by Troeger failed. A subsequent vote to approve the one-time payment for administrators was split, with Troeger and board member Michael Loomis voting against the measure.

Board member Pat Gleason and board president Paula Stephenson voted for it.

About 80 percent of the school district's staff cast a ballot regarding the CBT package, which will increase teacher salaries an average of 4.88 percent, including salary step and cost-of-living adjustments.

Support staff salaries will increase an average of 4.5 percent.

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