Bargaining team agrees to step increases for eligible school employees | SteamboatToday.com

Bargaining team agrees to step increases for eligible school employees

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

— Steamboat Springs School District employees are likely to see step salary increases next year following a vote by the district's Collaborative Bargaining Team Tuesday morning.

Eligible employees would move one step up on the district's salary schedule, a wage increase averaging 2.6 percent for teachers and 4 percent for classified employees, including nutrition services empoyees, maintenance employees and school bus drivers.

The group also voted to boost pay for two classified positions — general maintenance worker and preschool paraprofessional — to bring those salaries up to market level.

Overall, the increases in the compensation package are expected to cost about $450,000.

Based on current budget projections, the district is looking at a 2016-17 budget that includes about $208,000 in deficit spending, less than half the amount of deficit spending for the current budget year.

District Finance Director Mark Rydberg said there are still some small moving parts to the budget, including starting salaries of new employees who join the district over the summer and whether those employees take health insurance.

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"It's a ballpark. It's an estimate," Rydberg said, in reference to the projected deficit spending.

Another moving part will be student enrollment for next year, which translates to per-pupil funding for the district.

Currently, the district projects an increase of 25 students for the 2016-17 school year, an estimate that takes into account new students, including those who have already entered the district or signed up for kindergarten, and students who are expected to leave for the new Mountain Village Montessori Charter School.

One point of contention that arose before before the vote dealt with whether to provide some type of pay raise to classified employees who are "topped out" on the district's 10-step classified salary schedule.

Some CBT members favored a plan that would forgo step increases for classified employees in favor of a 3 percent raise for all classified employees, a proposal that would offer a wage increase to topped-out employees at the expense of smaller increases for classified employees on lower steps of the salary schedule.

Ultimately, all 18 CBT members present voted to support the compensation package that included only step increases for all employees, with three members expressing hesitation, but accepting the proposal.

The compensation package will be voted on by staff May 20 and if approved will head to the Board of Education for board approval.

At least three board members Monday indicated they would support a package that included step increases.

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