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School Board to discuss salary schedules, welcome new member

Sunday, April 11, 2010 | 4:22 p.m. CDT; updated 8:24 a.m. CDT, Monday, April 12, 2010

COLUMBIA  — After months of campaigning, the new Columbia School Board will gather in the board room for the first time Monday evening to discuss teacher salaries and hear a financial update.

Mary Laffey, assistant superintendent for human resources, will present a proposed 2010-11 salary schedule for new hires that will require a board vote. According to the salary schedule, teachers receive raises based on years of experience, known as steps, and additional hours of academic credit.

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Susan McClintic, president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, said that if it is approved, some employees will be moved from the teachers' salary schedule to one of their own. These positions include nurses, instructional aides and Parents as Teachers participants.

"They will not have the opportunity for growth that they would with the teachers' salary schedule," McClintic said. However, "all of these groups of people have the opportunity to ask for exclusive representation and participate in collective bargaining if they would chose to."

The current teachers' salary schedule includes eight lanes of pay that teachers are available to move among based on their qualifications, the highest being a doctorate. The new, separate schedule will only have one lane.

Laffey said the separate salary schedule was created after a professional compensation company came in 2006-07 to make pay recommendations for the school district. After comparing district employees salaries and comparing them with market salaries for the same position, the company recommended that the district develop schedules that were about jobs.

"Being a nurse is different than being a teacher," Laffey explained.

In her financial update, Linda Quinley, chief financial officer, will cover expenditures and funding over the past month as well as considerations for next school year.

Quinley said the update will give the School Board a good idea of where the district will end up at the end of the year. So far, she said, this year is looking better than expected. She thinks this is due to effectively holding back on spending.

However, the School Board will have to take possible cuts in state funding into consideration. The district's regular funding formula could be cut, and Quinley will present three other possible reductions: school transportation by $15 million; Parents as Teachers by almost $14 million; and elimination of Career Ladder funding, which amounts to a $1.17 million cut.

Career Ladder funding is the main concern for teachers at the moment, Quinley said. Teachers received a letter last fall warning that the Career Ladder program is at risk of being cut.

The 700 teachers enrolled in the program receive supplement checks based on extra time spent in the classroom. There are three levels of achievement, each with requirements such as hours of credit beyond a bachelor's degree and filling out a responsibility plan that outlines their goals for the year. Level one, two and three receive $1,500, $3,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Quinley said that about 62 percent of the funding comes from the district, and the rest is provided by the state. Teachers are doing the work now that would normally be paid for by the state. Usually, the district pays teachers in May for the state-funded part of the work and is reimbursed in July. However, if the funding is cut, teachers will not receive the other 40 percent from the state.

The school district is putting off sending out the checks until May 7, when it will know whether the state will send its part of the funding.

"My personal opinion is if that gets cut this year, it will not be a part of the budget next year," Quinley said, meaning the program could be permanently removed if not backed by the state.

Columbia Missouri National Education Association and Columbia Public Schools Employee Organization will also discuss teacher and employee working parameters. This will include a request for appropriate compensation, working conditions and an opposition to merit pay.

The association will request limits on time spent in meetings outside of the contractual day and adequate time for planning and breaks.

Board President Jan Mees and member Jim Whitt will return to the board, both for three-year terms, while newcomer Jonathan Sessions will take a one-year seat. The board will elect a new president and vice president at the beginning of the meeting.

Mees said she plans to accept the presidential position if it is offered to her again this term. "I think having been through the first year I know the expectations involved with it," she said.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the district administration building, 1818 W. Worley St.


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