Purdy raises base teacher pay to $31,000

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

New lease deal with Apple signed to upgrade all devices

Purdy school board members have made plans for the coming school year, including setting salaries and reviewing construction project on the new storm shelter and performing arts center.

Superintendent Steven Chancellor reported the district completed the 2017-2018 school year largely on target, except for paying down the district’s debt faster by $419,900, an extra payment not planned for the coming year. He noted the district ended the year with a 31 percent reserve. The board approved a transfer of 7 percent of the operating fund into the capital improvements fund, allowed by the state once a year. The amount was higher than in the past, in part because the state allowed a $50,000 depreciation on transportation costs not previously available.

Chancellor then recommended pay for the coming school year, raising the base pay for a starting teacher by $500, setting the base at $31,000. An increase was also added for the fifth year of service. Teachers will receive higher wages for every year of service and every level of education through the 33rd year in the district.

Extra duty pay, he noted, will be based on a percentage of the pay for the faculty member, rather than a stipend. The National Honor Society sponsor, for example, will be paid 2.75 percent of the base salary for that additional service, bringing the pay amount to $852.50.

“Making this change allows us to concentrate one number — teacher base —in the future, and as we increase it, the other areas automatically increase,” Chancellor said.

The biggest changes in personnel for extra duty were in golf, where incoming science teacher Richard Wagner was named coach for both the boys and girls programs. New middle school social studies teacher Ashlee Luko will coach girls basketball.

All told, the pay raises added $92,000 to the district’s budget, which the board approved.

Pay adjustments for administrators put the superintendent’s salary at $98,382. Principals Derek Banwart and Julie Dalton, both heading into their second year of service, will earn $79,356 at the high school and $74,460 at the elementary school. Mindi Gates, the associate superintendent, will earn $76,357.

As a side note, Chancellor reported the electronic payment service initiated last September had collected $10,244 in payments through May, at a cost to the district of $362. He thought the convenience and amount of use showed that made a good addition.

Personnel-wise the district was still in need of a bookkeeper. Anna Marie Erwin finished her duties before retiring at the end of June but her replacement, Devin Fisher, quit before starting. Board members voted to allow Chancellor to be the third person authorized to sign checks until a replacement was found.

Otherwise, the only position still open as a paraprofessional for the preschool. Chancellor opted to keep that position open until the number of preschoolers was clearer.

The board hired Sheila Berg as a new custodian. Berg was roundly praised for her eagerness to work.

Looking at the construction project, Chancellor said the project had slowed due to a shortage of plywood. He expected the building to be fully enclosed by the end of this week. Overall he thought construction was on schedule, though he anticipated a possible delay on the arrival of seats for the auditorium, a last minute installation that would not slow the rest of the work. Board members could take a midway construction tour, he added.

Chancellor proposed the district upgrade its iPads, having completed the first four-year cycle. The first purchase cost $359,800, and the district has paid $92,000 a year on the lease purchase. Two different models were in use at the different grade levels. The new purchase will upgrade all models, with Apple buying back the old technology for enough to cover one of the four annual payments of $60,722.55. Board members agreed to a lease extension of 630 devices at a cost of $234,990. The devices come in 10-packs at a cost of $379 per machine.

“I think four years [before replacement] is the sweet spot,” Chancellor said. “Laptops will go three years before developing battery issues.”

Board member Ken Terry commented he thought the district had waited “a year too long” before taking action.

In other financial action, the board renewed its contract with Cox Rehab for sports medicine, speech and language therapy. Chancellor said Cox did a “phenomenal job,” charging about $4 per unit and dealing with many preschool children, a charge that was reimbursable through the state. Board members also agreed to retain accountant Scott Benton of Cassville to handle the district’s audit. Benton offered to continue at the same price of $4,300.

“He challenges us. We get better,” Chancellor said.

The board also approved hiring Hillhouse Services of Verona for $11,590 to demolish the old preschool building next to the new construction site. Chancellor recommended the bid, in line with others, because it included abatement of the asbestos in the structure.

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