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Washington County school board OKs raises for teachers and three other employee groups

To pay for the pay increases, the school system is receiving $4.1 million in new revenue from the state

February 21, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

Despite opposition from one board member, the Washington County Board of Education Tuesday night approved pay hikes for teachers and three other employee groups, a package that will cost $4.2 million, school officials said.

To pay for the pay increases, the school system is receiving $4.1 million in new revenue from the state, school board President Wayne Ridenour said after the meeting.

The rest of the money for the raises will come from money saved through the elimination of the Teacher Leadership Responsibilities Program, which provides stipends to teachers who take on a leadership responsibility such as  assessment testing duties, Ridenour said.

“We’re OK,” said Ridenour, referring to the school system’s finances.

But board member Ed Forrest objected to the increases because he said the new revenue from the state is “less than certain.” Forrest also objected to the elimination of the Teacher Leadership Responsibilities Program.

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Forrest was the only one of seven board members to vote against pay increases for teachers, support personnel and an executive team that reports to Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox.

Forrest recused himself from the vote on pay increases for supervisors and administrators because his wife is a school principal.

Now that the pay agreements have been worked out, Wilcox can put the finishing touches on his proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. Wilcox is expected to present his budget at the March school board meeting.

The teacher pay hikes reached through negotiation with the Washington County Teachers Association call for a step pay increase July 1 and a second step pay hike in January 2013.

The second step pay hike is for teachers that have four or more years experience as of July and is designed to make up for a step that was lost for that group in the past two bargaining pay cycles, school officials said.

Teachers who are already at the top of the pay scale will get a 1 percent pay hike.

Ridenour recused himself from the vote on the teacher pay hikes because he has relatives who are teachers.

Teachers represented by the Washington County Teachers Association are in the first year of a three-year contract, but salaries are to be renegotiated for the second and third years.

Support personnel will receive a step pay increase July 1, and support personnel at the top of the pay scale will receive a 1 percent pay hike.

Supervisors and administrators will receive a step pay increase on July 1 under the plan, and those employees at the top of the pay scale will receive $500.

The executive team that reports to Wilcox will receive raises under a separate plan because they are not considered part of any of the other employee groups, Ridenour said.

The raises for the individuals amount to about a one step pay increase, and the total pay hike package for the team cannot exceed $15,700. The pay hike for executive team member Deputy Superintendent Boyd Michael will be slightly higher because of his added responsibilities, Ridenour said.

The other four people on the executive team are Chief Financial Officer Chris South; Donna Hanlin, assistant superintendent for curriculum, school administration and improvement; Mike Markoe, assistant superintendent for student and staff support; and Anthony Trotta, legal counsel for the school board.

Board member Justin Hartings said he supported all the contracts because the school system was able to pay for them, even while it has absorbed other costs, including those for replacing school buses, school-crossing guards and school nurses.

Staff Writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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