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Columbia School Board holds off on salary schedule changes

Monday, April 12, 2010 | 10:49 p.m. CDT; updated 9:27 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, April 13, 2010

COLUMBIA  — After saying goodbye to board member Karla DeSpain and welcoming new board member, Jonathan Sessions, the Columbia School Board began discussing salary schedules Monday night. 

Sessions' first meeting was marked by discussion and reports but few votes outside of housekeeping measures. Although the board was scheduled to vote on the 2010-11 salary schedule for new hires, members agreed they needed more information before making a decision.

“There are unanswered questions that we feel we need to discuss,” said Jan Mees, a board member who was re-elected as president. “Not knowing what it’s going to say makes it hard for all of us to jump ahead and say we’re on board for this.”

According to the current salary schedule, employees receive raises based on years of experience, known as steps, and additional hours of academic credit.

If proposed new schedules are adopted, some employees would be moved from the current salary schedule to one designed for their position. These positions include nurses, outreach counselors, home school communicators, instructional aides and Parents as Teachers participants.

The current teachers' salary schedule includes eight available lanes of pay that teachers can move among based on hours of academic credit, the highest lane being a doctorate. The new, separate schedules would eliminate raises for academic credit for some positions, although employees could still receive raises for years of experience.

Instructional aides and nurses could still receive some raises for academic credit under the new schedules, but there will be fewer levels to move among. Aides would have a salary schedule that would be a replica of the teachers’ salary schedule but with salaries divided in half.

Mees requested, if possible, that possible future adoption be done in small pieces, rather than adopted all at once. The School Board will continue to discuss the issue, addressing it again at the May 10 meeting.

In a financial update, Linda Quinley, chief financial officer, covered expenditures and revenues for the year as well as considerations for next year.

As of March 31, the district has projected savings of just under $2.7 million, about $1.7 million of that cut from salaries and benefits.

Quinley presented three possible areas in which the state could cut public school funding next year:

  • school transportation by $15 million
  •  Parents as Teachers by almost $14 million

Columbia Public Schools Employee Organization will now be known as Columbia Missouri State Teachers Association in hopes of clarifying the organization’s purpose – serving as a local affiliate for MSTA.

Representatives of Columbia Missouri National Education Association and Columbia MSTA discussed teacher and employee working parameters.

CMNEA requested limits on time spent in meetings outside of the contractual day, adequate time for planning and breaks and consideration of a timeline for receiving collective bargaining.

Columbia MSTA President Laura Sandstedt disagreed with the request for collective bargaining for the groups.

“I can’t think of a decision that would be worse,” she said, but despite her disappointment, she said she would never want either organization to lose its opportunity to be heard.

Columbia MSTA emphasized that it does not have a list of demands but wants to discuss issues including opposition to merit pay and support of the proposed new hire salary schedules.

The board also re-elected Tom Rose as vice president.

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