GF board approves $500 salary increase for employees

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

By Haley Schichtl

The Green Forest school board approved salary increases for employees at its meeting Monday, April 20.

The board approved a $500 salary base increase to all certified and classified employees, which will cost the district $150,000 a year.

The board also approved an increase in pay for bus drivers and substitute bus drivers, by the request of the transportation department.

This will change the transportation start salary from $11,250 to $12,000. During field trips, drivers will be paid $15 per hour for up to 8 hours, and after that they will be time and a half, or $22.50 per hour. It also will increase the substitute driver pay from the current $20 per trip or $40 per day to $30 per trip or $60 per day.

The proposal originally included a substitute driver pay raise to $25 per trip and $50 per day, but board president Bud Phillips said the pay should be closer to what the full-time bus drivers make.

“Sub bus drivers have to have the same qualifications as the everyday bus driver,” Phillips said. “We’ve always had trouble getting subs.”

The board also voted to continue paying classified staff, or staff in non-teaching positions, regular compensation even though they will not meet their regular hours during the district closure.

“Most of our certified staff can work at home even though students aren’t here, but our classified staff can’t,” Superintendent Matt Summers said.

In other business, Summers said he would still like to hold events for staff and students, especially seniors, that have been delayed due to the school shutdown, even if they happen in late summer. This includes prom, senior parade, senior breakfast, baccalaureate, graduation and retirement receptions for employees.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the proposed 2020-2021 school year calendar, which makes the first day of school Aug. 13 rather than Aug. 17. Employees took a poll and about 68 percent voted to start on the earlier date. The school year will still be 178 days, but will end a week earlier, Summers said.

The board also approved the professional development plan for the 2020-2021 school year, which requires staff to complete 36 hours of professional development between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021.

The board also approved the school improvement plan, which schools are required to submit each year and outlines how staff will address student needs, implement a plan and evaluate the results.

The board then approved a method of grading students in the fourth quarter of this school year.

The Department of Education gave schools three options, and the board chose to use the grade the students made in the third quarter again for the fourth quarter, with the exception of some seniors who did not quite pass in the third quarter.

“We’d come back, meet with the teacher in that specific area, evaluate their AMI work,” Summers said.

The other two options were to give the students either a “pass” or “fail,” or to grade them based on the few days they were in school along with their work on AMI packets.

“AMI was created for that occasional snow day; it wasn’t intended to be used long-term,” Summers said. “No new information can be presented in AMI packets.”

The board then approved two new positions in the district: a reading teacher for grades 6-12 and a dyslexia teacher for grades 6-12. This would cost the school district about $90,000 for salary and benefits depending on the teachers’ experience.

The board did not approve the student handbook addendum to the classifications of high school students, which the board has discussed and tabled twice.

The policy change was requested by high school principal Tim Booth at the board’s January meeting. While the school currently classifies a student’s grade level based on how many credits they have earned, the change would classify them based on how many years the student has completed. The student would still have to complete the same number of credits to graduate and would still have to retake failed courses.

Members of the board agreed this might give the students the impression that they are on track to graduate even if they are not.

In other business, the board approved maintenance supervisor James Smith’s request to purchase flooring from J& J Flooring Group for the maintenance department to install in the intermediate building.

Summers said the flooring is luxury vinyl tiles, which do not require waxing or buffing. This is a long yearly process including moving all the furniture out of classrooms into the halls to clean each room. The vinyl flooring also comes in separate pieces so a section can be replaced alone if there is damage to one spot. Summers said he also likes that the flooring is rough, unlike the current floors in the building, which get slippery on rainy days.

The tiles and adhesive will cost $57,088.32. Smith said it normally takes the maintenance staff about three weeks to install new flooring in the intermediate building.

The board also agreed on graphics for the new gym floors.

Summers said the school district is now looking for things to paint, clean or upgrade since the unusual circumstances have given the district more time to complete projects.

The school board’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, May 18.

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