Hayden School Board OKs administrative salaries

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— The Hayden School District again will realize savings from having a half-time superintendent.

The Hayden School Board on Wed­nesday approved a 2011-12 contract for Mike Luppes that will pay him $57,500 for working 130 days. The state’s Public Employees’ Retirement Association permits retirees to work as many as 140 days.

Luppes’ salary will increase from $50,000 this year, when his contract required him to work 110 days. He will continue to coach boys basketball next year.

School Board members also approved contracts for Hayden Secondary Schools Principal Troy Zabel and Hayden Valley Elementary School Principal Rhonda Sweetser. Both are eligible for salary step increases in 2011-12 should the School Board approve them later this year.

School Board President Brian Hoza said he was satisfied with the administrative team this year, which is down 1.5 full-time-equivalent positions from the 2009-10 school year.

“The whole administrative team is doing some excellent work to prepare for final budget conversations to minimize impacts to the classroom and students,” he said.

The middle school principal position was eliminated this school year when the middle and high schools were combined. Eliminating the position and reducing the role of the superintendent to half-time saved the district about $110,000 this year, savings that will continue in 2011-12.

That’s good news for Hayden, which is bracing for another year of budget cuts that could have approached $500,000.

However, because residents in November approved a property tax increase, or mill levy override, Luppes said those cuts would be far smaller and wouldn’t affect the district’s programming — expected cuts will go from about $484,000 to about $162,500.

The projected cuts include a 6.5 percent reduction in state funding ($240,000), increases to employee health insurance ($20,700) and retirement benefits ($18,500) and fewer students ($18,500). As proposed, the budget would provide faculty and staff salary step increases ($55,000) and restore the three employee furlough days ($38,000).

Luppes said budget reduction measures still are being discussed, including denying step increases.

“We realize that we have to continue saving and cutting budgets,” he said and added that the community supported the property tax increase to address future budget cuts but that the district still needs to reduce expenses where possible.

The district will consider adopting the proposed 2011-12 budget in June with final approval to the state required by Jan. 31.

Also at the meeting Wednesday, Luppes updated the School Board on the progress of the Hayden Secondary Schools Curriculum and Offerings Committee’s 2011-12 academic year calendar proposal.

He said the discussions have included starting before Labor Day, instead of the traditional start date of the Tuesday after — about two weeks after other Routt County schools.

The committee has scheduled presentations for the rest of the school’s faculty and staff, the elementary employees and parent groups for after spring break. It is scheduled to present the calendar to the School Board in April with a decision expected in May.

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or e-mail jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com

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