COLUMBIA — The Columbia School Board unanimously approved a modification of the hourly salary schedule at its meeting Monday night.
Local business organization COLORS (Columbia Locally Owned Retail & Services) will host a public forum for the eight School Board applicants Wednesday. The event is from 7 to 8:30 p.m. downtown at The Upper Crust, 904 Elm St. It will be open for questions from the public. For more information contact Sean Spence at 823-1308 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The modification will affect 23 support staff employees, such as administrative assistants, cooks, custodians, library clerks, lunchroom and playground supervisors, and parking lot security, who would have taken a step on the salary schedule without improvements, said Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources.
Employees affected by the decision have at least 15 years of service with the School District. The hourly salaries will improve 1 percent for those moving from step 20 to step 21. Effectively, every employee will receive improved pay from 0.3 to 1 percent increases.
As of last month’s board meeting, the board was able to operate the salary schedule for support staff based on years of experience but not educational advancement. It would cost the district another $700,000 to operate hourly salaries on both educational credits and experience, Laffey said. The board's decision to approve the 1percent stipend for hourly employees will cost $7,000.
While the board approved the 1percent increase, board members also suggested the Finance Committee take a closer look at the whole hourly salary schedule and consider more increases in the future, depending on what the budget allowed.
In other business, the Columbia Public School District draft budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year was introduced with little discussion.
Business Services Director Linda Quinley reviewed the draft with the board.
Quinley said the district's beginning balance for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is projected to be about $27.4 million on June 30. She said so far next year's estimated total revenue and total expenses balance at $158 million.
Quinley said state revenue is up from last year because of a combination of an increased number of students and a new reduced lunch program. At the same time, the amount of money received from grants and donations has noticeably declined, which "really shows what's happening out in the economy," she said.
The budget includes a new compensation section projecting salaries by category and funds. This new addition explains "our efforts that we've made this year to try to get you better information on that (how stipends are paid)," she said.
Quinley encouraged board members to take the budget with them for further review.
"It's a little big of me to ask you to consider this all tonight," she said.
A public hearing for questioning about the budget will be at 6 p.m. June 18 at 1818 W. Worley St.
Quinley said copies of the draft budget will be available to the public online and in hard copy over the next few days.
On Monday, the board also elected a secretary and treasurer for the next fiscal year. Nick Boren, chief operations officer, was elected to serve as the board secretary, replacing Lynn Barnett, assistant superintendent for student support services, who is retiring. Quinley was re-elected to serve as board treasurer.
The board will meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday to interview the eight people who applied to fill the open board seat vacated last month after Rosie Tippin resigned for health reasons.