School board split on employee compensation package | SteamboatToday.com

School board split on employee compensation package

The Steamboat Springs School District administration offices at 325 Seventh St.

— Steamboat Springs Board of Education members were split 2-2 Monday on whether or not to approve a proposed employee compensation package, meaning the package won't be put in place as-is.

The package included step increases for eligible district employees at an increased cost of $440,000 to the district, as well as increases to health insurance and retirement costs picked up by the district.

In total, the package had fiscal implications of $670,000 and would have contributed to about $230,000 in deficit spending overall for the 2016-17 school year.

Board members Michelle Dover and Sam Rush voted in favor of the package, while Roger Good and Joey Andrew voted against the package.

"I'm struggling with continuing the cycle of deficit spending," said Andrew. "We have a broken system, and I'm struggling with continuing to fund into that system. I have no problem giving a raise — this step, the percentage of increase, is where I am struggling."

Step increases average about 2.6 percent for teachers and are 4 percent for classified staff.

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Prior to the vote, board president Margie Huron recused herself from voting on the package and the discussion because of a possible perceived conflict of interest.

Huron noted that her daughter was a district teacher and a member of the district's bargaining team, leading to a handful of audience members commenting that they believe she should step down from the vote.

Huron said she had not discussed the collective bargaining process with her daughter, but she agreed to step down from the vote and discussion.

Andrew also shared he had a sister who worked for the district, but board members agreed that they didn't believe the situation presented a real or perceived conflict of interest.

Because of the vote, the compensation plan will head back to the district's Collaborative Bargaining Team to be revised.

District employees had voted on the package Friday, with 124 employees voting in favor, seven opposed and three abstaining from the vote.

Rush said not approving the proposal could harm staff morale and the staff's relationship with the board.

"They worked so hard to get to this point, in good faith, to get here," said Rush, who is on the bargaining team as a board representative. "It hurts me to think we've come so far, to think we're going to come down to a 2-2 vote."

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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