School Board to vote on contracts

Faculty, staff give strong approval to 2008-09 salaries, benefits

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What: Steamboat Springs School Board meeting to vote on 2008-09 contracts

When: 1:15 p.m. today

Where: Steamboat Springs High School media center

— The Steamboat Springs School Board is holding a special meeting today to vote on staff and faculty contracts for the 2008-09 school year.

Faculty and staff approved the contract negotiation with a 117-24 vote Thursday, with seven abstentions. School Board members said they expect the contract to pass without controversy during today's meeting in the Steamboat Springs High School media center.

Sandra Smyser, interim superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District, said one major addition was an incentive package for non-teaching staff to further their education.

"That's been something that they've been talking about and working on for several years, so it was nice to have that goal finally taken care of," Smyser said.

The addition will provide small payments, ranging from 3 cents to 12 cents an hour - on top of a staff member's normal salary - per additional college credit, to be paid to the staff member in a lump sum at the end of each school year.

"There's not very much money added to it because they didn't have much money this year, but the structure was put in place in order to reward non-teaching staff for getting further education and also rewarding the education they have when they come to us," Smyser said.

Negotiations were completed by the Collaborative Bargaining Team, which includes representatives from the School Board, district administrators, teachers and support staff.

The proposal also includes a half-percent pay hike for all licensed and classified employees.

"Last year, we had more money to work with" because of an increase in enrollment, said Denise Connelly, School Board vice president.

Enrollment this year is expected to remain stable, she said, which will not allow as many salary increases as last year. Colorado public school districts receive state funding on a per-pupil basis.

An increase in enrollment last year sent an additional $400,000 to the district from state coffers. Of that windfall, $120,000 went to teachers, administrators, support staff and hard-to-fill positions.

Smyser, who was on the negotiating team, said this year's small raise also was because of the downturn in the economy.

"We were all disappointed we couldn't do more than that. We really were hoping that we could do better, but one of the things that really affected our budget this year was loss of interest due to the economy," she said.

Smyser said the district has lost $100,000 in its budget because of decreasing interest payments.

"This year, we're trying to be conservative," said Connelly, who was not a part of the negotiation team but has been updated on the issue.

The contract is the only agenda item at today's meeting.

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