Maries R-1 school board approves raises

By Colin Willard, Advocate Staff Writer
Posted 6/19/24

VIENNA — The Maries R-1 Board of Education approved raises for teachers, non-certified staff members, bus drivers and substitute teachers during its May 21 meeting.

Superintendent Teresa …

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Maries R-1 school board approves raises


VIENNA — The Maries R-1 Board of Education approved raises for teachers, non-certified staff members, bus drivers and substitute teachers during its May 21 meeting.

Superintendent Teresa Messersmith proposed a raise in the district’s base salary for teachers from $32,500 to $34,000. Following state legislation signed into law in May, the minimum teacher salary will increase over the next five years until it reaches $40,000. Next year, a state grant will help districts cover the difference between their base salaries and the $40,000 requirement.

Messersmith said she thought it was important to ensure that all the teachers got a raise and not just those making below $40,000. By raising the base by $1,500 and factoring in the established $500 salary step, all teachers will receive a $2,000 raise. The cost to the district is about $110,000, which Messersmith said the district can cover the raise and still have a budget surplus of more than $240,000.

Board President Dave Long asked how far down the district’s surplus will go as it prepares to eventually cover the entire cost of the $40,000 minimum salary requirement.

Messersmith said the district’s reserve will increase for the next two years if it follows her budget proposal. The district saved about $113,000 in salary costs by cutting two positions and redistributing some of the teachers’ duties.

“Eighty percent of our budget is on salary,” Messersmith said. “The only way to cut the budget is with people, and I know that’s not good. But that is the way it will have to be done, and it’s better to do it now with positions we can kind of do without.”

Long asked if covering the positions in-house would overload classes with too many students.

“We don’t want to get anybody left behind,” he said.

Messersmith said the district’s class sizes remain small. Only one elementary school class had 20 or more students last year. Right now, the district expects one of the elementary school classes to have 27 students next year. Messersmith said if the number stays the same as the school year approaches, the district may need to cut into the surplus and hire another teacher to split up that class.

Later, the board approved a 4.5 percent raise to non-certified staff salaries to match the 4.5 percent raise given to the teachers and administrators.

Messersmith proposed a 3 percent raise to bus drivers’ mileage rates, which the board approved. The 10-cent raise will raise the rate for drivers on gravel roads from $3.25 to $3.35 per mile and drivers on paved roads from $2.85 to $2.95 per mile. The raise will cost the district an estimated $9,829 during the next school year.

Another raise the board approved during the meeting was for substitute teacher pay. The previous rate was $80 per day, which was below Missouri’s $12.30 minimum wage. The new $90 per day rate equals a $12.86 per hour rate. Messersmith estimated the raise would cost about $7,000 more per year.

Later, Messersmith gave the board an overview of the district’s budget proposal.

The district operates with four primary funds. Fund 10 is the general fund. It covers costs such as non-certified salaries, transportation, maintenance and food services. The proposed budget revenue for Fund 10 is $3,146,25 and the expenditure is $2,217,908.56 for a surplus of $928,344.44.

Fund 20 is the teacher fund. It covers the cost of teacher salaries. The proposed budget revenue for Fund 20 leaves it with a balance of negative $684,249.42, which Messersmith said is normal. Every year, the district takes money from the Fund 10 surplus to cover the extra expenses from Fund 20.

Fund 30 is the debt service fund. It pays for the district’s bonds, interest and other debts. The revenue in the proposed budget totals $350,050 and the expenses total $297,625 for a surplus of $52,425.

Fund 40 is the capital outlay fund. It covers the costs of equipment and projects of more than $5,000. The proposed budget has revenue at $20,000 and expenses at $15,500. The fund has much more in reserve in case of an emergency such as a bus needing replacing. Although money from Fund 10 can cover a limited amount of Fund 40 expenses in a pinch, money cannot go from Fund 30 or Fund 40 to another fund. Those funds do not count toward the district’s reserves.

The board will vote on a budget proposal at its June 25 meeting at 6 p.m. in the school library.

Also during the meeting, Messersmith said she had talked with Vienna Mayor Tim Schell after representatives from the school board had been unable to attend a city meeting and representatives from the city had been unable to attend a school board meeting. He informed her that the city planned to charge the school $3,000 to use the ballfield at the park.

At the May city meeting, the Vienna aldermen initially voted to charge a fee of $125 per game. After reviewing scheduling for the upcoming year, the school found that the volume of home games would cost close to $6,000. The city agreed to instead charge the school a $3,000 flat rate for the year. The fee is only to use the facilities. None of the maintenance will change.

“So a public park you have to pay to use it,” Long said. “I wish they’d come talk to us before they just throw it in the paper.”

Messersmith said she had invited city representatives to the meeting though none attended. The agenda item was only informational and the board did not vote on anything related to using the park.

Long asked if the school having to pay to use the field would change the agreement with the city that prevents the school from charging for entry to the games.

Messersmith said it was a possibility, but the city had not yet made a decision about it.

Board member Matt Novak asked who would collect the money and how those people would differentiate between people going to the park for the games and people using the other park facilities if the district could charge an entry fee.

Messersmith said the district would likely need to pay someone to collect money. The person working the gate would have to take the word of anyone entering the park.

At the June city meeting (see related story), the Vienna aldermen agreed that they did not have any issues with the school charging for entry to games as long as they allowed people to use park facilities for free if they were not watching the games.

The board opened two surplus property bids. The first came from Jesse Carroll for the Lincoln Electric Wire-Matic 255 at $400. The other came from Daryl Hollis for the Lincoln Electric Wire-Matic 255 at $875 and the Lincoln AC/DC Arc Welder for $105.

The board approved a memorandum of understanding with rootEd Alliance, an organization that brings college and career advisors to rural high schools to work with students to make post-graduation plans. Through a grant, the district uses the service to help pay for the salary of one of its secretarial positions.

During the meeting, the board also approved contract renewals with various services. The board approved a contract with Arsi, Inc. Environmental & Demolition Contractors to remove asbestos flooring tile and adhesive glue in the elementary school gym. The contract costs $12,700 and the company will complete the work in June. After the removal, the district will pay $1,500 for an air quality test.

On the recommendation of Special Education Director Joe Edwards, the board approved the same occupational therapy contract as last year with Building Independence Therapy LLC.

The board approved a contract renewal with the software company PowerSchool, which the district uses to keep student information such as grades and attendance. Messersmith said the contract came at an increase of about $620 from last year’s contract.