School District uses reserves for raises

Friday, May 25, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Teachers and support staff in the Columbia Public Schools will get a $1,000 raise to their base pay for 2007-2008, but the increase will require the district to dip into its reserve funds.

Because of growing concern about spending the reserves, the board will set up a Long Range Salary Planning Process Committee that will start looking at raises three years out.

“We want to make sure that it is not so expensive and cumbersome to add pay raises,” said board president Karla DeSpain.

The committee, to be formed in August, will comprise teachers, administrators and board members, DeSpain said after the meeting.

Board Vice President Darin Preis, among others, said at the meeting he was nervous about digging into its reserves.

“It makes the concept of having a three- to five-year plan more significant,” he said.

With the exception of absent members Don Ludwig and Steve Calloway, the vote to raise the salaries by $1,000 was unanimous. Other proposed raises were $500 and $750.

Board member David Ballenger suggested the board keep its eye on ways to cut back on other spending and direct that money to reserves.

“We’re at a time now when we need to be able to draw the strings in,” Ballenger said.

Also during the meeting, Superintendent Phyllis Chase said the district has consolidated the eight “early out” days, in which students leave school early so that teachers can meet, to two full professional development days that schools can use at their discretion.

Chase said teachers were concerned they weren’t making the most of student time on those early-out days.

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