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School Board Approves Employee Raises

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

The Glenwood School Board voted 4-1 last Monday at its monthly meeting to give across-the-board raises to the district’s classified non-union employees, non-certified union employees, administrators and Superintendent Dr. Stan Sibley.

The board-approved, 3.5-percent total package salary and benefit increase covers the district’s 34 non-certified non-union employees, five department supervisors, four administrators and Sibley. Non-certified union employees, which include associates, cooks, custodians and Kid’s Place employees, will be receiving an increase of 4.14 percent. The districts’ 44 bus drivers will also be receiving a .59-percent raise, or about 23 cents more per route, as part of the salary increases, according to Shirley Lundgren, school board secretary.

In all, 242 district employees will be receiving total package increases as part of the motion that totals more than $165,000.

Board members Frank Overhue, Linda Young, Theresa Romens and Bill Agan all voted for the measure. Dave Warren was the lone vote against. Warren pushed the board to consider each of the proposed raises separately at the meeting but lost his bid to void the salary increases for the administrators and the superintendent.

“As the leaders of the school, they have an obligation to lead by example,” said Warren, siting salary and hiring freezes at other state institutions and businesses around the state as the primary reason why he thinks the district’s administrators and superintendent should not be receiving raises this year.

“I’m surprised they took them (raises). It’s not a question if they deserve it; it’s a question of can the district afford it?”

Combined, the salary raises for Northeast principal Joan Crowl, West principal Kevin Farmer, high school activities director Scott Arkfeld and high school principal Kerry Newman add up to $7,400.

Sibley, who declined to take a pay raise last year, will see his salary increase by $3,280 for the upcoming school year. Sibley was paid $126,520 during the 2008-2009 fiscal year.

The district’s most recent total package increase comes on top of the 3.5 percent salary-only raise the district is giving teachers for the next school year. That matter was settled in June by arbitration.

The initial enhanced benefit and salary package desired by the teachers would have amounted to an 18 percent increase over the 2008-2009 fiscal year, said Sibley.

Romens, the school board president, said she was aware the salary increases might not appear to be justified with the current economic climate, but she added she didn’t think there was “an option not to give a raise.”

“We felt like we bargained as well as we could to make sure the district would still have money to do other things,” said Romens. “We felt this was just. Our employees work hard. It’s never easy to bargain with people you work with everyday, but we try to pay a just wage.

“Every year that we’ve given a raise, people are upset. But, everybody gets raises in the real world. This is the real world. These people have to support families and they have mortgages and they deserve it. I know a lot of companies are able to freeze or cut benefit packages, but we aren’t really allowed to do that.”