The Crossett School District’s Board of Education moved Monday to set teacher salaries at the new state-mandated base pay and to freeze them while administrators work on broader pay issues.
As part of a larger education reform move, the Arkansas General Assembly mandated that starting pay for teachers be set at $50,000 annually, and required that all teachers receiving more than that receive a $2,000 annual raise.
At Monday’s board meeting, Superintendent Anthony Boykin recommended the board adopt a salary schedule for all K to 12 teachers that reflects those changes.
The state sent the district funding to cover those teachers, Boykin said, but did not include pre-K teachers because their salaries come from a different fund.
The board adopted a separate salary schedule for pre-K certified teachers.
The state also included some funds for classified staff raises, but based the funding for classified raises on a funding matrix that assumed that schools had six classified staff for every 500 students. Classified staff includes maintenance workers, food service employees, nurses, and paraprofessionals, among others.
“If you look at the funding we have and the staff we have, we have enough money to give a 31 cent an hour (raise) for classified staff,” Boykin said. “It is up to the district to make up the difference.”
The CSD has 97 classified employees, approximately 30 per 500, Boykin said.
“They are all pretty vital to the operation of our district,” he said.
District Business Manager Norman Hill told the board that the total cost of upward salary adjustments comes to approximately $1.3 million, of which the state had supplied approximately $900,000.
“We will have to come up with the difference between $900,000 and $1,3 million for the certified (employees),” Hill said.
In adopting what he called a transition salary schedule, Boykin told the board that the district would be in compliance with the new law but it will still give administrators time to figure out how to fund classified staff and other raises.
“That doesn’t mean that the classified is not going to get a raise, we just have to figure the funding out,” he said.
“What I am asking you to do is meet the salary schedule and then freeze them at the step they are at to allow us to meet the law and figure out the salary schedule (for others).”
The board voted to take Boykin’s recommendation.
Later in the meeting, the board members also voted on a motion from member Eddie Goodson to give Boykin a $2,000 raise in line with the other raises. The board likewise voted to allow Boykin to report his job-related mileage annually instead of monthly.
During the finance portion of the meeting, Hill told the board that local taxes had come in and the amount that the district was previously down should level out for the rest of the year.
In other news, the board voted to grant a bid to Stadium Pros to make improvements to the visitor’s side of the Crossett High School football stadium that will bring its ramp into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Boykin said the improvements were part of a longer project that began under former Superintendent Gary Williams, and had previously included improvements to the bathroom facilities in the area.
During the personnel portion of the meeting, the board accepted Alan Riley’s retirement from Crossett Middle School; LaCindee Love’s resignation from food service at Crossett Learning Center; and approved Chelsea Hodges’ hiring as an LPN at Crossett Middle School.
Also during the meeting, Boykin presented outgoing board member Goodson with a plaque to thank him for his service on the board. Goodson is leaving the board after 12 years of service.
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