Maries R-2 approves salary, personal time payout increase

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 7/14/21

BELLE — Maries R-2 Board of Education on June 29 approved a teacher salary base increase of $500, a master’s column increase of $500, and asked to see what another $250 to the base and master’s …

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Maries R-2 approves salary, personal time payout increase

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BELLE — Maries R-2 Board of Education on June 29 approved a teacher salary base increase of $500, a master’s column increase of $500, and asked to see what another $250 to the base and master’s column would look like on the 2021-22 budget.
“In the budget that you just approved there was $500 added to the base and then $500 added to the master’s column,” Superintendent Dr. Lenice Basham began. “Then non-certified staff would get the same percentage as the certified staff, around 2.5 to 3 percent.”
Basham said to the quiet board that it has been several years since a raise was added to the base of the salary schedule.
“I guess what I don’t like to see is we are still in the same spot,” Director Aaron Vandegriff began. “Even if you are upping it $500 here or $500 there, you are not going to get anyone else to come. Yes, I want to give everyone another $41.67 a month, but you are not going to attract new people with that.”
Basham agreed, adding that it is hard because they haven’t done significant raises to the step in so long. The board said they had approved one under the direction of former superintendent Dr. Patrick Call, but they have fallen behind as they would either add to the step or the base.
“Did you look at different scenarios,” Vice President Kenda Sanders asked.
Basham said she looked at what she thought the district could afford, adding in another $100,000 in compensation while maintaining a 20 percent unrestricted fund balance.
“I looked at $750 in one, but it threw it up to about $150,000 in compensation,” she said. “We have already given a step. If you want to see that done at a higher rate we can, but it always makes me a little bit nervous to go up to such an extent.”
Basham added that the reason she didn’t put all $1,000 on the base was because many teachers are going back to get their master’s degrees and aren’t being compensated for their increased education.
“We want to encourage our staff to take on more education,” she finished.
Vandegriff asked if the pay was comparable at the hourly rate to other school districts.
“Yes, we are basically the same when you add in the longer days versus the shorter days,” Basham said. “They may be a little under.”
Vandegriff said he understood, but “it isn’t the story he wants to tell.”
Sanders said she would like to see what $750 to the base looks like.
“Would you consider adding the $500 to the salaries and coming back next month and I will show you what the additional $250 looks like?” Basham asked.
Director Garret Bialzcyk made a motion to approve the proposed increase as is and revisit the increase in July.
“The non-certified staff salaries change next week and I would like to get that changed — that pay raise into their pay,” Basham explained.
Vandegriff said he wouldn’t mind seeing more pay added to the master’s education, as surrounding schools’ teachers are making more with a bachelor’s degree.
Basham said she would add $250 to the base and another scenario with another $250 added to both the base and for a master’s degree.
“Anyone who is not on a salary schedule would see a 4 percent increase,” Basham said. “This would add another 2 percent increase.”

New teacher salaries and the increases to the base and master’s column would go into effect in September.
The board approved the $500 increase to the base and for the master’s education column, along with the request to see the additional $250 added to each column with a 6-0 vote.
Changes were also applied to the district’s reimbursement policy for unused sick leave or employees leaving the district that have accrued more than 500 hours.
“We can’t find an actual procedure or policy, but on the chart it says that when someone leaves the district this is how much we pay them,” Basham began. “So right now if a non-certified person leaves, they are paid $25 a day for their leave (over 500 hours). A teacher gets paid $55 for their leave (any hours over 500).”
Basham said they are finding that — teachers especially — use all of their leave in May because they feel like $55 is not enough and would rather take the day off.
“So we see a lot of teachers use all of their leave and they are not here for the MAP test or the end-of-the-year assessments because they are taking every Tuesday and Friday off,” Basham said. “I understand, but feel if we increased what we paid out, my hypothesis is that they would use that money versus taking leave at the end of the year.”
That would mean teachers receive a payout at the end of the year for the hours they have accumulated over 500.
“So we are thinking this will cost us less because we won’t have to pay the subs while they are gone?” Sanders asked.
“I am hypothesizing it may cost a little bit less, but the impact on student achievement will be higher because they are at school,” Basham said.
“We are taking a sub (who gets paid $100 a day if they are certified) versus our actual teacher being there,” said Belle High School Principal Garrett Haslag. “At the high school level they are taking away what they would be working on because you can’t press a sub to teach upper level geometry.”
Haslag said he would rather have their own teachers.
Director Dawn Hicks asked for clarification about why they don’t have a written policy. Basham said they have not been able to find one that was approved in either the district paperwork or board minutes.
“Every school district does (payout) a little bit differently,” Basham said. “Owensville determines payout by the month. February is so much versus April. Linn does a thing where you get a third of your days at a third of your daily rates — which is also complicated.”
“So you are hoping that they will have a bunch of days but not use it, then take a big check at the end of the year to go on vacation, right?” Hicks asked.
Basham said yes, rather than paying a certified substitute $100 a day.
Sanders asked if she understood right that teachers receive 176 hours of leave or personal time a year. That is 12 sick or personal days and two weeks of vacation.
“So they would have to be in the district a little bit and have perfect attendance before even hitting the 500 hours,” Sanders asked.
Basham said teacher vacation hours are not included in the 500 hours of personal time.
“I move to approve the increase in the payout for the unused leave,” Bialczyk said.
Vandegriff seconded the motion, which passed with a 6-0 vote.
The new policy includes a $75 payout a day for certified teachers and $55 a day for non-certified teachers with any personal time over 500 hours.
“I had a couple of teachers who were very appreciative for the increase,” Basham said Tuesday afternoon. “They felt like they were being punished for not taking their days. So appreciation was very high.”

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