Veteran school bus driver Jim Stockton chats with students while waiting to pick up more students at the high school Monday afternoon. The Steamboat Springs School Board voted Monday night on whether to give "hard-to-fill" positions in the school district a pay increase next year. Some of the positions that have been difficult for the district to fill include those of bus drivers, custodians and maintenance staff.

Photo by John F. Russell

Veteran school bus driver Jim Stockton chats with students while waiting to pick up more students at the high school Monday afternoon. The Steamboat Springs School Board voted Monday night on whether to give "hard-to-fill" positions in the school district a pay increase next year. Some of the positions that have been difficult for the district to fill include those of bus drivers, custodians and maintenance staff.

Bargaining agreement gives $210K in raises to district staff

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A Collaborative Bargaining Team agreement approved Monday by the Steamboat Springs School Board will put an additional $210,000 into the pockets of teachers, administrators, support staff and hard-to-fill positions.

The proposal, which also was approved last week by Steamboat Springs School District staff, is the result of an unexpected enrollment increase of about 100 students this year that infused more than $400,000 in state funds into the school district.

The Colorado Department of Education uses final enrollment numbers as of Oct. 1 of each school year to determine how much funding each district receives per student, often referred to as per pupil operating revenue, or PPOR.

The Collaborative Bargaining Team proposal is retroactive to the beginning of the 2007-08 school year and builds upon an agreement approved by the School Board in June that granted $475,860 for better salaries and benefits to certified and classified staff.

The new agreement provides an additional 1 percent salary increase to all certified staff, including teachers and administrators. Classified staff received a 2.5 percent increase, while hard-to-fill support staff positions, such as bus drivers, severe needs aids, custodians and maintenance staff, received a 5 percent increase. Staff will see the pay increase beginning with March paychecks.

"I would hope that the additional money for hard-to-fill positions works toward providing a better wage for these people who are very important in our district," said School Board President Robin Crossan, who was part of the negotiations.

Collaborative Bargaining Team member Brad Kindred, a Steamboat Springs Middle School teacher and former Steamboat Springs Education Association president, likened the process to divvying up a pie.

"We only have a certain amount of pie," he said. "Who gets what pieces and how much is time consuming and often contentious at times. If there is new enrollment, it should go to the people it affects - that is teachers, administrators, bus drivers. Everybody should get a little piece."

When Dale Mellor, the district's director of finance, first updated the School Board in October about the extra PPOR funds, board members refused to commit the money toward staff salaries.

"There was never a written contract or agreement about where that money would go, but verbally it was discussed," said Crossan, who joined the School Board in November. "We honored the verbal conversation."

Interim Superintendent Sandra Smsyer said school district staff expected the pay increase because of precedent set by previous bargaining agreements.

"In two prior years, it had been written down, so people had thought it had been this time, but it wasn't," she said. "It caused some confusion."

The Collaborative Bargaining Team is working on a proposal for the 2008-09 school year, which Crossan said should go before the School Board in June.

Kindred said it's "only right" that money from increased enrollment is given to staff members, who must do more work because of the additional students. He added that increasing salaries is essential to attracting and retaining educators in Steamboat Springs, where keeping experienced staff has been an uphill battle because of the area's high cost of living.

"We have lost a lot of our experienced teachers. Our kids and our community takes a hit every time we do that," he said. "It's no secret it's been difficult to (staff) the hard-to-fill positions. If you ask why, well, it's because of what they are getting paid. We'll throw money at it first, assess it next year, and if we need to, we can do other things."

Comments

MtnWarlock 6 years, 1 month ago

This is interesting! I like the way this teacher tells the reporter the "order" on how new money should be spent:

it should go to the people it affects - that is teachers, administrators, bus drivers. Everybody should get a little piece."

Now, the school district fills its classes with teachers, and its offices with administrators however, they can't seem to find a janitor or a bus driver or a maintenance man to "support" these teachers and administrators, to save their lives! Maybe they should consolidate and add these support functions to the teaching and administrative work loads and give "them" the incentives! Problem solved! Back in the old days, they did it all! If you want more pay, do more work! I'm sure the pay increase is to pay those support staff who elected to stay and pick up the extra work loads. I don't know that a .60 cent increase on the base wages of $12.00 is going to attract very many people to do that kind of work. It will just help retain the ones they have! Then again, what can you expect from a town that is more becoming like Vail and Aspen! Too much money and not enough servants! Sad.

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letomayo 6 years, 1 month ago

mtnwar, true comment teachers and staff pick up more work some are part timing other jobs outside of school and and part time jobs as custodians inside for $12.00 an hour after teaching all day so what does that says alot about how teachers pay is helping them to afford to live here and administrators are working less hours and most don't work at night at home or on weekends like teachers do and they got the most money in this deal. It looks that more money is thrown at adminstrators who don't work with kids hardly at all. Y? Cause the admins get too much money and there is not enough to buy the servants like teachers and the rest and they keep hiring new teachers and young teachers until they figure out they can live here for a year or two and they leave and then adminstrators stay and make more and more money and we don't have adminstrators leaving every year like teachers.

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SilverSpoon 6 years, 1 month ago

Young teachers are the short term solution: A couple years of experience in the front range, and aspirations of living and skiing in "ski town USA". It doesn't take long for them to figure out that they can't afford: A ski pass, any decent housing(within 20miles of town) and the heavy sales taxes

Then, at a school which never has snow days(probably the only school in the nation), skiing is just as accesible as it was for them in the front range.

1% of $120,000=$1200 1% of $40,000=$400 5% of 10months40hrs4weeks*12/hr=$960 2.5%=$400

What piece of the pie would you take?

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MtnWarlock 6 years, 1 month ago

leto & spoon, I agree with the percentage values and what that means to the beholder. In labor talks, do you discriminate the size of the percent by the size of the salary to make it an even across the board figure? I don't think that would fly. I think that the speculation that administrators have "limited" hours of work is a lie. That maybe for some but, not all! Their were a couple of teachers who stepped up to the challenge to help the janitors however, that task went away in a hurry after a few weeks, leaving the rest of the work on the remaining janitors. Unless you get "REALLY" involved as I have, its easy to have limited vision on issues and the ability to see things from a broader perspective. The way I view the money situation, if you want more money in your life, you find a job or a profession that will get it for you. Nobody but the administration gets rich in public education! For what teachers get paid, they have a job that's a labor of love. Its sad to know that even a lonely minister with a BA in Theology makes more salary than a teacher with a BA. As for the support staff, well I can tell you that they serve with a labor of love of their own that everyone benefits from and their paid the least.

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