Creston Community School District administrators, certified staff and classified staff will all receive a 1.6 percent wage increase after the CCSD Board of Education unanimously approved the increase during Monday’s regular meeting.
The 1.6 percent increase comes at a time when the district has cut nearly $1.5 million out of its budget over the past two years, with more reductions expected in the future.
According to CCSD Superintendent Steve McDermott, the 1.6 percent increase was totaled and averaged so each principal in the district would receive the same amount, which was the same approach taken with teachers.
“With the change in legislation and Chapter 20, that really changed the whole environment for bargaining,” McDermott said. “We looked at our own budget, and of course we’re in a time we’ve made reductions and we’ll continue to. We also didn’t feel like it would be right to absolutely freeze everyone’s salaries at this point, given the changes to Chapter 20 and a lot of the master contract language that has been removed through that process.”
McDermott said a “considerable amount” of the previous master contract language is being moved into an employee handbook, which will serve as a set of guidelines for staffing issues.
Certified staff, which includes teachers and the teachers’ union, will receive a 1.6 percent total package increase that amounts to $914 total for each teacher.
“Our unions have been very cooperative and understanding and great to work with,” said McDermott. “One other point I’d like to make that’s extremely important to me, our union folks take care of younger employees. They’re worried about the younger teachers. Our support staff, they’re worried about newer employees.”
For classified staff – paraeducators, bus drivers and food service employees, among others – the 1.6 percent increase was applied to hourly rates as evenly as possible across the board.
Since classified staff includes several different groups of people paid at different hourly rates, McDermott said it administration did the best it could to make it a uniform increase.
While the 1.6 percent increase is not much, McDermott said he wanted to give staff some kind of increase.
“It’s an increase, but it’s way below what maybe past agreements would have been,” he said. “In years past, the state average increases were somewhere between 3.25 and 3.5 percent. Here, we didn’t do that last year. We weren’t able to. I think we were 2.86 last year.”
In other CCSD news:
• Because of the resignation of third-grade teacher Lakyn Mathews, who has accepted a position in the Clarke Community School District, Cassandra Parks will be offered a contract for 2017-18.
Parks’ contract was terminated because of reduction in force during the April board meeting as part of budget cuts. At the time, McDermott expressed an interest on the district’s part to keep Parks if an opening arose and an interest on Parks’ behalf to stay in the district.
“She’s actually staying now,” McDermott said Monday. “Cassie will stay right where she’s at. Next year, second grade will be four sections. We had five second-grade teachers. But, we need a third-grade teacher. So, one of those folks will need to go to third grade for a year. The next year, they can sure go back to that, because we’ll have five sections of second grade again and third grade will have four sections again.”