South Routt School Board approves raises

District will use money collected from the mill levy tax

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— The South Routt School Board unanimously approved salary step increases for eligible faculty and staff for this school year.

School Board President Tim Corrigan said he felt better about providing the increase because faculty and staff members were working to implement changes to improve student achievement.

“I don’t want to hold it out there as a carrot or call it a reward, but I would like you to express to staff that we’re pointed in a better direction than we were before,” Corrigan said, speaking to South Routt School District Superintendent Scott Mader, secondary Principal Dennis Alt and elementary Principal Raylene Olinger. “I would like to recognize that it is a form of appreciation on behalf of the School Board.”

But Corrigan acknowledged that given the future financial uncertainty, the district may have to take the increase back.

It will cost just more than $44,000 to provide the increases retroactively to the beginning of the school year, Mader said. Finance Director Dina Murray said only one faculty member and one staff member, in addition to new teachers, were not eligible for step increases. She added that increases would not be provided for extra duty, such as coaching.

Mader acknowledged that the move isn’t without risk.

But he said the district is in a position to provide salary step increases because more than 56 percent of South Routt residents who cast ballots last month voted in favor of a property tax increase, or mill levy override, that will provide an additional $354,357 annually for five years.

“We don’t know what the future is going to bring,” he said. “We might not be able to do this next year. But I think we can now, and I think we should.”

Murray said if the raises weren’t approved, it would be the first time in her 10 years with the district that it didn’t provide either step increases or cost of living adjustments.

School Board member John McCollum asked if it would be better to provide a one-time bonus to teachers. Murray said that would put the district in a position to try to catch up in future years.

Mader said the district told the community that if approved, the property tax increase would help pay to retain staff.

He said South Routt won’t be able to keep pace with Steamboat, but it needs to try the best it can. Steamboat granted salary step increases earlier this month using additional funding from an unexpected influx in students. Hayden also provided its faculty and staff with step increases this year.

In other action, the School Board unanimously approved the 2009-10 audit after a presentation from Matt Scoggins, of Colorado CPA Services’ office in Rangely. Scoggins gave South Routt a clean opinion, which means there were no significant issues with the district’s accounting practices.

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