Peabody-Burns teachers to get pay increase


News editor

In an attempt to make the district more competitive, the board of education voted May 12 to increase the base salary for faculty members by five percent.

"This will make us more competitive with area schools of a similar size," said superintendent Rex Watson. "The base will go from $30,000 to $31,500.

"Bigger schools in the area such as Maize, Newton, or Valley Center will still have a higher base so it will be hard to compete with what those districts are paying," he added. "But this is a good increase."

Watson said negotiations with the teachers went well.

"They were good to work with," he said. "We used a teamwork approach and were able to isolate some mutually beneficial issues."

Watson said the negotiations team also cleaned up the language of the contracts.

"Over the years things had been added or changed for one reason or another. In many cases people who had been with the district for years couldn't even remember the reason behind some of the changes," he said.

"We were able to get the clutter out of the contracts and make them more easily understood."

Acceptance of the ratified negotiated agreement between the teachers and the district passed the board with unanimous approval.

The board heard from district site council member Barry Peter who presented the council's annual report. The board thanked site council members for their service to the district and discussed the duties of the site council.

After discussion the board requested some changes be made in the future. The council will provide monthly minutes and an annual report. The school board will make a greater effort to utilize the site council and call on them for input.

In other business, the school board:

— discussed unpaid enrollment and lunch fees. Collection attempts, past practices, and current handbook language for eighth graders and seniors were discussed. Changes to the wording about repercussions to delinquent accounts will be included in the student handbook for the coming year.

— approved, 7-0, the adoption of the resolution for final action to non-renew Jana Wedel's contract for the 2008-09 school year due to "reduction in force and fiscal matters."

— offered a contract to Glenn Bechtel as vocational agriculture teacher, FFA sponsor, and assistant wrestling coach for the 2008-09 school year. Approved job offerings to the following: Jack Brunzell, temporary custodial position; Darren Schroeder and David Pickens, summer weights program; and Derek Simmonds and Oliver Whitney, summer maintenance positions. The board also approved a two percent supplemental stipend to Kathy Preheim as district curriculum coordinator.

— accepted the resignations of assistant PBHS football coach Clint Winchester effective at the end of the 2007-08 school year and custodian Tim Peterson effective May 9.

— accepted bids from Nancy McLeod for the district van and from Stephen Cooper for the pickup.

— heard during public comment from FFA students Bayleigh Clark and Christopher Brooks about FFA/ag accomplishments and direction, from instructor Elizabeth Gottsch about the PBHS Success Center, and from patrons Darren Pickens and Mack Clark about teacher and certification concerns in the district.

— heard reviews from Watson about updates to district goals, the CLASS remodeling project and the district day-care facility project, and a cooperative agreement between Marion/McPherson County Head Start and USD 398. All updates were accepted by the board.

— tabled until a future meeting a decision on the wording of board policies regarding nepotism and supervision as well as the acceptance of a monetary gift by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

— approved an overnight trip for FFA students to the state convention in Manhattan and a chapter leaders' conference at Rock Springs 4-H camp.

— approved the purchase of new science textbooks as recommended by the district curriculum coordinator, Kathy Preheim. The purchase will be made as funds become available.

— approved the board selection committee's recommendation for 2008 graduation awards.