Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 22, 2014

School’s support staff salary increases revised

By DIANE VANCE, Ledger staff writer | Dec 18, 2012

The Fairfield school board Monday approved revising the district’s support staff five-year-service salary increase schedule to be implemented a year sooner than previously paid.

District support staff will receive a 48-cent increase longevity pay after the first year of employment, fifth year and every five years thereafter.

School board member and former Fairfield school bus driver Bob Waugh maintained that a committee he sat on some years back had agreed to longevity increases for support staff after an employee’s first year, fifth year and every five years thereafter.

District business manager Kim Sheets and superintendent Art Sathoff said since 2009, the district has given the 48-cent increase after the first year, then again in five years. Waugh said that puts the second increase in year six, not year five, as the former committee intended, and then again at year 11 instead of 10 years, and so on.

The school board’s Salaries (administrative and support) Committee, consisting of school board members Waugh, Jeremy Miller and Jerry Nelson, met Dec. 10 to review this issue formerly brought up by Waugh.

“That way of waiting five years after the first year of employment makes the first year count as year zero,” said Waugh. “That was not the intention of the committee years ago.

“One year, the board approved a 50-cent longevity increase for support staff with 10 years and a nickel increase after years one and five for others,” he said. “That only happened one year, when we thought it would be an ongoing practice. So a committee decided to help the others catch-up, to implement this 48-cent raise after years one, five, 10, 15, 20 — I don’t remember if there’s a cap.

“But it was not the intention of that committee to have an employee wait five more years after the first year’s increase.”

School board president Jennifer Anderson asked how the school board at the time approved the committee’s recommendation.

Waugh said he didn’t recall.

“I don’t remember it being explained,” said board member Jeri Kunkle.

“The person who interpreted the recommendation back then is gone,” said Jerry Nelson, board member.

Anderson asked if there were any notes about the committee meeting, Waugh said probably only very vague ones.

Sheets said support staff has been paid the 48-cents increase after years one and then after another five more years (year six) and so on since she began in the district.

“I’ve brought this up every year and contested it quite a bit,” said Waugh.

Board member Rich Metcalf said if the former committee’s intention was an increase after years one and five and then every five years, “That’s how it should be.”

Waugh said to change the pay schedule right now for district support staff will affect 17 people this year and cost the district an additional $16,040.

On a roll-call vote to implement the revised pay schedule according to how Waugh reported the committee recommended, board members approved the revision 6-1 with Kunkle the only no vote. Amy Miller, Jeremy Miller, Waugh, Nelson, Anderson and Metcalf voted yes.

Sathoff said support staff contracts would need to be adjusted because workers cannot be paid a different amount than their contracts state.

Sheets explained various financial reports in the board’s packet, including a comparison of fiscal years 2006 through 2012 for the Certified Annual Report.

District salary expenses were $343,422 over the budgeted amount of $10,030,120 for last year. But the actual expense for salaries in FY2012 are down $575,695 from FY2011.

Employee benefits increased $283,655 over budgeted amount $2,967,614 last year. Nelson asked why.

Anderson said the benefits costs would raise proportional to increases in salaries.

“Hiring additional staff, such as when a student is identified as needing a one-on-one associate, we can’t anticipate how many students that will be,” said Sheets.

A large discrepancy in FY2012’s budgeted amount of $6,587 in the property account shows actual expenses were $100,627; a $94,040 difference.

“We had a grant come in that was spent on computers,” said Sheets.

“We kept our expenses within budget in the categories we can control,” she said. “We can’t totally control salaries and benefits.”

FY2012’s General Fund had a total budget of $16.5 million and $16.9 million was spent, a difference of $436,219.

The current school year, FY2013 has a General Fund budget of $16.9 million, or $44,070 more than actual expenses last year.

Sathoff reminded board members the state has not announced the allowable growth amount schools will receive.

“It used to be 4 percent annually was considered the right amount to keep districts going,” he said. “Then during the recession, we had one year with zero allowable growth and for the past few years it’s been 2 percent annually. If we get below 2 percent, we’ll have to make it up through the levy.”

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