Archive for Thursday, September 1, 2005

School board approves contract with teachers

September 1, 2005

At Monday's meeting, the Baldwin School Board approved a contract with teachers which meant raises, approved the budget and delayed the community survey.

After the 50-minute executive session, the school board voted 6-0 to accept the outcome of negotiations with the teachers. Board member Scott Lauridsen was not at the meeting.

"It's always good to get the negotiations finished up," Supt. James White said. "This year they were delayed by actions of the legislature. They moved along pretty well and we had some really good negotiation sessions with the teachers and we're glad that we are able to get a contract finalized."

The settlement gave the certified staff a 6 percent raise for this school year.

"I think most people look forward to a raise," White said. "I think it is good for morale. I think the board went the extra mile to get as much out of the new money to pay the teachers a little more."

Head Negotiator Mike Curran said it will help the teachers feel better about themselves.

"I think it did a lot for our teachers' morale," Curran said. "Last year we waited clear until April to finish up, and I think that was hard on the teachers in the district. It's good for the district and for the teachers to get settled early. I think it's just good for morale all across the board."

Curran also said personal and sick days for teachers were replaced with 12 discretionary days. There were several others parts of the settlement.

"We increased the medical fringe benefit about $50," Curran said. "We decided to start all teachers on step four, which raises our base to $30,252. But the supplementals are still figured off the regular base, which was $29,500."

The settlement also included a 4 percent raise in salaries to classified staff and administrators.

Board Member Ande Parks was happy to see the settlement, even though it was delayed because of the state legislature.

"It feels great, but it still took longer than it should," Parks said. "I don't think it was something we had a lot of control over. We didn't have final numbers on the state until pretty late in the game. It feels good to have that done and I think both sides are pleased."

The beginning of the meeting was the budget hearing, which received no questions and was over quickly. The 2005-2006 budget was then approved as published.

"The budget was approved by the board," White said. "We will just submit copies to the county and the state now."

The district's operating budget is set at $7,668,134, which leaves a local-option budget of $2,070,396.

The bulk of the meeting was used to discuss the community survey and which questions will be asked. The board brought Jim Yonally, Jayhawk Consulting Services Inc., back to help choose a list of possible questions.

Yonally brought in a few questions that his company has used with other school districts.

"This is our suggestion and it is your survey, so you ought to ask what you want to know from the community," Yonally said.

The board studied the questions and also thought about others that might be asked. The board also took suggestions from the building administrators on possible questions or changes to the list.

Joe Gresnick, Baldwin Junior High School assistant principal, thought of a possible question.

"I don't see anything on here that asks if the district is using the funds properly," Gresnick said. "That might be something you want to ask."

During the meeting, each board member added their input to which questions should or shouldn't be asked. The discussion lasted nearly 45 minutes before the board decided to search for more questions or topics.

The board agreed to have each school's site council help with the survey. Each site council will be asked to create new questions or change the current questions to make the survey worth while.

"We decided that it would be good to ask the site councils on what they thought would be good questions," Board Member Bill Busby said after the meeting. "We have the opportunity for a limited number of questions, so we want to make sure we don't miss any topics we wouldn't be aware of."

After the meeting, Parks agreed the site council input only strengthens the survey and will create meaningful responses.

"I just want to collect as much data as we can before we go forward with this survey," Parks said. "I don't think this is something we will do on an annual basis. I want to be sure we are not wasting it and not asking about things that might be important to us."

Board Member Ruth Barkley said the board has to figure out what it wants from the survey.

"I think we as a board need to decide what we want to get out of this," Barkley said. "I don't want to waste people's time asking broad questions."

Parks said that communication is one aspect of the survey he is interested in trying to solve.

"One of the personal goals as a board member is to communicate better with the community," Parks said. "As board members, that's a personal responsibility that's on going. I thought this survey might help us focus our energies a bit better."

At the end of the meeting the board also voted 6-0 to approve the personnel report, which included the resignation of elementary music teacher Jocelyn Leonard, who will taking her family to be with husband in Michigan.

The board also voted 6-0 to begin work with the city to build a sidewalk from Douglas County Road 1055 to the sidewalk behind Baldwin High School. There will be a crosswalk from FireTree Estates that crosses Douglas County Road 1055. Then the sidewalk will go through the middle of the practice football fields and connect with the sidewalk behind Baldwin High School.

"I think it will be a very good thing for safety," White said. "I also think it will be good for the kids not to have to walk through wet grass and mud to get to school. I think it will be a good to have a clean sidewalk."

The next school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 12 at the District Office.

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