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Sun, Aug. 09

Teachers receive a slight increase<br>

Sunshine streams through the windows of the shop classroom located inside the new vocational edu-cational building at the Williams High School. The new building is expected to be open and in use by in August.

Across the board, certified staff members received a small salary increase. For example, the base salary of a first year teacher in the WUSD was increased from $25,000 to $25,138. In addition, Williams educators were advised to give up a $500 bonus for signing contracts early — saving the district approximately $26,000 — which they agreed to do. Since the salary increases range from approximately $138-$238 per position annually, some certified staff will actually be taking home less money.

“This has been a frustrating year for budget issues as our student count is down,” said Kristi Fredrickson, Williams High School teacher, member of the budget committee and president of the Williams Education Association. “The budget committee focused on all raises being equitable, fair and across the board.”

The contracts for certified staff includes 182 days. An additional two days — Aug. 5-6 — was added for mandatory professional training. During the two days, it was proposed that staff be paid at an hourly rate of $20, which is below what some staff members make under their contracts.

“The certified staff were willing to give up a $500 signing bonus in order to make things more equitable amongst all staff,” said Fredrickson. “Now we are being asked to work at an hourly rate that is less than what we would normally be paid for a contracted day. This hardly seems equitable.”

WHS teacher Ann Wells, a 22-year employee of the district and WEA negotiator, requested that the board table the proposal to pay staff an hourly wage for professional development activities.

“Teachers are asked to do more work while getting paid less,” Wells said.

She added that professional training that is paid at a lower rate than what the teacher is contracted for should be voluntary and not mandatory.

“This is ill advised and disrespectful to the staff,” Wells said.

Janet Cothren, board president, directed WUSD Superintendent Susan Scherz to investigate the matter further.

“We had a meeting with her (Scherz), but it was cancelled,” Wells said.

The issue was re-visited later in the meeting.

Funds from a grant had previously been available to cover the costs of paying staff to attend professional development activities, said Jane Kirkley, professional development director of the district.

“Grant monies are soft money that cannot always be counted on,” said Scherz.

New mathematics curriculum for grades kindergarten through twelve will be utilized within the district during the 2004-2005 school year. One full day of professional training would be set aside to introduce the curriculum to certified staff. Paying staff a contract per diem to attend the mandatory training could set a precedent within the district, Scherz said.

“The precedent has already been set. You are breaking the precedent. We’ve never had extra days paid at a flat rate put onto our teaching contracts,” Wells said. “Can’t we incorporate this training during early release days?”

Kirkley advised that professional development training during the early release Fridays had been filled for the upcoming school year. The additional two days would be necessary to distribute more information, she said.

“This is telling the staff ‘182 days you are worth your contract amount and two days you are not,’” said Billy Gilmer, administrative support consultant for the WUSD.

“Our staff is worth the same every day. We have to find a way to pay them what they are worth,” said David Nenne, board member. “Before we say, ‘we can’t do it,” we need to explore every possible option.”

Paying certified staff at a rate of contract per diem is not financially possible, said Frank Manson, board member.

“There’s only so much money to go around,” Manson said.

“We’re attempting to use funds for additional professional training towards the end of next year,” said Scherz.

In the end, the board approved that the rate of pay for professional development activities and other extended tutoring assignments for certified staff to be increased from $17.50 per hour to $20 hourly. The board approved contracts for certified and classified staff. If more funds are discovered to pay certified staff a contract per diem rate for the two additional days, an addendum will be added to the certified contracts.

No make up day

Due to construction and inclement weather, the district is one day short in meeting state-mandated attendance requirements. The requirements were met at the Williams Elementary and High schools, but not at the middle school.

It was originally proposed that May 22 be a “make up” day to meet attendance requirements. After a lengthy discussion, it was decided that May 31 could be a more appropriate time for a make up day. The board tabled the matter.

On May 13, administrators once again reviewed the number of hours of school time at each level based on state requirements. In the process of doing so, it was determined they had made a calculation error earlier in the year. The middle school had enough hours to get through the school year without having to add a make up day, said Scherz.

High school graduation update

Due to construction in the WHS gymnasium, graduation will be held on the football field. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. on June 4. Officials from Flagstaff High School have volunteered the use of their auditorium for the event. However, WUSD administrators and members of the Class of 2004 want the graduation ceremony to remain in Williams, said WHS Principal Robert Kuhn.

Personnel

The board approved the resignations of Donya Haisak, SOAR aide; Karon Trovillion, middle school social studies teacher; and Karen Kisner, ED teacher.

The board approved the employment of Kelly Hurd, SOAR aide and Merle Jaffe, SOAR paraprofessional. Jennifer Towell, elementary resource teacher; Marcus Szwankowski, middle school math teacher; Abbie Martin, WEMS intervention math/reading teacher; Brent Spencer, Learning Enhancement Center teacher; and Sherry Swelnis, middle school resource teacher, were approved with the contingency that proof of certification would be provided.

The board approved a change of classification of staff for Terrie Braden from bus driver trainee to regular bus driver and Tamara Mickelson from substitute teacher to interim teacher for the remainder of the school year, retroactive to Feb. 18.

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