Schools give raises to employees

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cassville, Southwest, Wheaton up pay for teachers

Each summer, area school districts are tasked with deciding whether or not to give raises to its staff, and this year, Cassville, Southwest and Wheaton schools have chosen to up employees' pay.

The Cassville R-4 School District approved a $250 raise to the base pay, meaning a new teacher with a bachelor's degree and no teaching experience will now earn $34,750. Classified staff also received a 25-cent per hour step.

The district's salary and welfare committee suggested a $750 raise to the base pay, but the school board settled on $250, which Board Member David Haddock said is not out of the ordinary.

"Salary and welfare will always recommend what they want, and it's up to us to decide what we can afford," he said. "We usually give raises every year, and it's a good thing we can do that because it keeps morale up.

"It's not always exactly what they want, but you don't get what you want all the time, and we pay for insurance, so that's a big benefit."

Asbill said the pay increase for teachers is one of the things that keeps the district competitive.

"Cassville is in the top 10 for base pay, experience and education," he said. "So, this helps us maintain competitiveness in the southwest Missouri area."

Cassville administrators and classified staff also received raises, including Superintendent Richard Asbill and Assistant Superintendent Jill LeCompte, whose $2,250 increases to $105,500 and $90,550, respectively, were the largest raises given.

The Southwest R-5 School District, which raised pay last year, gave raises to its teachers this year as well, bringing the base pay up by $500 to $30,000. Also, 10-month and 12-month classified directors received $400 and $480 increases, respectively.

"It's something we try to be committed to," said Bob Walker, superintendent of Southwest Schools. "We want to be as competitive as we can, and to this point, I think we've been successful in doing that."

Administrators at Southwest also received raises, the largest of which went to High School Principal Tosha Watson, whose $5,264 raise brings her salary up to $75,264. Walker received a $2,000 raise, up to $92,500.

The Wheaton R-3 School District bumped up pay in two areas, including the base pay and the amount of health insurance premiums covered by the district. Teachers' base pay was raised by $250, and an extra $50 was added to insurance premium coverage, meaning employees now get $400 in insurance payment assistance.

Lance Massey, superintendent of Wheaton Schools, said the district tries to do all it can for teachers, and this year's political posturing made things a little more difficult.

"We'd always like to give more, but with the tight budget and [Gov. Jay Nixon's] partial withholding of state funding, we had to be on the conservative side."

Wheaton also approved raises for Massey and other administrators in January and February. Massey, the highest-paid employee of the district, will earn $81,500 in the 2014-2015 school year. Massey said he could not recall his salary for the 2013-2014 school year.

The Exeter R-6 School District chose not to give a raise to base pay this year, meaning teachers will follow the salary schedule as-is. The last time Exeter gave a raise was last year, when it approved a $1,000 addition to base pay.

Superintendent Ernest Raney is Exeter's highest-paid employee at $81,500.

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