School employees upset over school board’s vote on raises | SteamboatToday.com

School employees upset over school board’s vote on raises

— Many Steamboat Springs School District employees are not pleased with the decisions of two Board of Education members Monday to vote against the proposed employee compensation package.

Members of the Steamboat Springs Education Association sent one letter to the Board of Education Wednesday while teachers and licensed staff on the collaborative bargaining team sent another, with both letters voicing frustration for what happened at Monday's board meeting.

Four district staff members not on the bargaining team also reached out to Steamboat Today to express their concerns over the board members’ actions.

Recent compensation changes for SSSD employees:

2011-12: No step, 2 percent raise

2012-13: Step + 1 percent raise

2013-14: Step

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2014-15: Step + 2.87 percent for teachers with bachelor’s degrees and 3.35 percent for teachers with master’s degrees. Classified staff were given additional raises to bring positions up to within market level + 0.96 raises.

2015-16: Step + 0.75 percent raise

• Step increases average 2.6 percent for eligible teachers and are 4 percent for all eligible classified staff.

• Steps are awarded to teachers who have taught in Colorado less than 15 or 20 years (depending on level of education) and support staff who have been with the district less than 10 years.

• Raises above do not include staff who move “lanes” on the salary schedule because of a change in education level, such as obtaining a master’s degree.

"We want to express our disappointment that two specific members of this board are refusing to honor this process by wasting district money and time through last minute attempts to eliminate the ability of all board members to vote," said the letter written on behalf of SSEA. "We are concerned that this reflects an agenda on the part of these two board members to undermine the CBT process, to negate the voice of staff in this district and to prevent the school board from doing its job."

On Monday, when preparing to vote on the bargaining team's agreed-upon compensation package, board member Joey Andrew disclosed that his sister was a district employee, but board members quickly voted that they did not believe it was a conflict of interest.

When President Margie Huron followed suit and disclosed her daughter was a district teacher who served on the bargaining team, board member Roger Good asked for public comment, leading to three audience members voicing their concerns about Huron's potential conflict of interest.

Both potential conflicts of interest had been disclosed during the first post-election board meeting in November, and neither conflict had come up in board discussion since.

Although the board did not vote on Huron's potential conflict, she recused herself from the compensation package discussion, and the remaining board members voted 2-2 on the package, with Good and Andrew voting against it and board members Sam Rush and Michelle Dover voting in favor.

"Two BOE members, Roger Good and Joey Andrew, used an invalid accusation against another member of the BOE, Margaret Huron, in order to keep her from casting her vote on the package," employees on the bargaining team wrote. "This was manipulative and divisive, and was a deliberate attempt to thwart the collaborative work of CBT, as well as a deliberate way to undermine a fellow board member with whom they disagree."

A tie vote meant a motion to approve the package had failed.

Teacher Rebecca Nicholson said Thursday she didn’t feel it made sense for Huron to recuse herself when Andrew did not.

“In my opinion, if one board member has to recuse themselves because they are related to a staff member, then all relatives of staff members should do the same,” Nicholson said.

Employees this week said they worked hard to create a compensation package that had support from staff, as well as the superintendent, finance director and Rush, who sits on the bargaining team.

Teacher and former employee union leader Babette Dickson said Thursday that bargaining is a thoughtful, civilized, democratic process and for Andrew and Good to vote against a package supported by administrators and staff was disrespectful.

"I declare the war against Good and Andrew," Dickson said.

Under the proposed compensation package, employee step raises would have cost the district an extra $440,000 as part of a $670,000 plan that includes increased costs for healthcare and retirement.

Andrew said Thursday he could be willing to support step increases, provided other cuts are made to help balance the budget, and he said he has sent his ideas to CBT members.

He noted that he has supported raises in the past, which he said have totaled an average of 14 percent in increases in the last five years.

"I do value our staff and have supported lots of raises," Andrew said. "But I can't do deficit spending."

According to Superintendent Brad Meeks, moving forward, the board could reconsider its vote on the package, direct CBT to meet again and negotiate a new compensation package or the district could try to identify cuts in other areas of the budget so that the proposed compensation package could be given without or with less deficit spending occurring.

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

Recent compensation changes for SSSD employees:

2011-12: No step, 2 percent raise

2012-13: Step + 1 percent raise

2013-14: Step

2014-15: Step + 2.87 percent for teachers with bachelor’s degrees and 3.35 percent for teachers with master’s degrees. Classified staff were given additional raises to bring positions up to within market level + 0.96 raises.

2015-16: Step + 0.75 percent raise

• Step increases average 2.6 percent for eligible teachers and are 4 percent for all eligible classified staff.

• Steps are awarded to teachers who have taught in Colorado less than 15 or 20 years (depending on level of education) and support staff who have been with the district less than 10 years.

• Raises above do not include staff who move “lanes” on the salary schedule because of a change in education level, such as obtaining a master’s degree.