Via an unanimous vote from the Camdenton R-III School Board, teachers will be getting a pay raise next school year. Superintendent Tim Hadfield recommended movement along the salary schedule, recognizing an additional step on the schedule, a two percent increase to the salary schedule, continue funding sick leave reimbursement policy and to continue medical and life insurance benefits provided by the district.
The board also voted to table discussion on the Career Ladder program until more information is available.
Before the board discussed Hadfield's recommendations, a sea of purple filled the school board chambers bright and early on Wednesday morning. The school board's special called 7 a.m. meeting hosted teachers who want to see a change in their salary schedule.
"I stand before you as a veteran member of the Camdenton teaching staff and someone who has always been a proud supporter of the school, the school board and the administration. I have never felt wronged by this district, nor do i have any form of political agenda and I support the upcoming bond issue," 19-year Camdenton teacher Jo-Beth Nicklas said. "I am here because I am extremely concerned about the salary schedule and the stipends in our district and particularly how that schedule affects the district's veteran teachers."
For Nicklas and other concerned teachers, the conversation revolved around not only the salary schedule as a whole but particularly for veteran teachers.
"For example, my husband, Todd, has been teaching nine years in the district to my 19. We spend the same number of weeks coaching activities per year and our roughly take home is only $156 apart each month. That does not include our boys' health insurance because we self-insure. This is due to issues with the pay-scale and our stipend. At first I found this amusing, as many of you know, but now he gets closer and closer to my pay each year. Why are my 19 years worth so much less?" Nicklas added. "Part of the problem is the years that we have been frozen and that our scale becomes less competitive as the years of service increase. I am sure you are aware of this since documents given to the salary committee show this came from Dr. Hadfield. We are competitive with other districts with our base but not as years continue to increase."
Nicklas contributes the lack of competiveness with other districts to what she considers a low morale among teachers.
"I think you would be surprised at how poor morale is," she said. "We feel like we are an after thought. It leaves us playing what I like to call the marketable skills game."
Other teachers spoke up in agreement with Nicklas.
Nine-year teacher Paul Brother said, "I should probably point out that the salary proposal that we as a group made last board meeting, was not what the individual members or the committee as a whole thought was a good raise for teachers. It was a proposal we based on the data we had and what we thought was probably do-able with the current situation and hoping the board would agree."
Page 2 of 2 - Brother told the crowd that to his knowledge during his nine years with the district, he has not received a raise worth more than one to two percent of his salary while he has moved up the pay scale. He said his raises were not in line with the increase in cost of living.
"Camdenton needs to address the issue of how to hire and attain good teaching staff. When I came to work here we were in the top five compared to most of the districts we like to compare ourselves to. Over the last several years, we have dropped nearly every year and nearly every comparison on the chart. This year, we ranked somewhere in between 10th and 15th in most categories according to the data," Brother added.
Jeff Shore spoke up and told the board how critical the issue was.
"This is not something that is brand new that we are asking for, this is something that we've been trying to get done for some time now," he said.
Shore spoke of the cut in the career ladder program, "That was a huge blow to the teachers. It was about a $1,500 pay cut."
Career was partly funded by the government and when it was cut from the government, it affected the district especially veteran teachers who were eligible for the program.
During the board's discussion on this topic, Hadfield addressed the importance of staying a competitive paying district.
"Good teachers are our best resource. I don't want to lose teachers down the road for an extra $500," he said.
The board also discussed formulating a long term plan to possibly increase the salary schedule more in the future. The board will meet again in April to continue their discussion.