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Sweet Home, Oregon
November 7, 2012     The New Era Paper
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November 7, 2012

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11 Te, r - November 7, 201 2 VouR COMMUNITY Page 15 tt School From page 1 already existed, provide 1-percent increases to salaries, while steps six through 10 provide 2-percent increases. Steps are typically granted annually, although administrators have had a couple of years where their salaries have been frozen-. Moving to step six will be: the high school principal, $94,180 per year; the junior high principal, $86,847; the human resources, transportation and operations director, $86,847; the student services director, $86,765, paid at half-time; the Foster and Holley principals, $83,697, with the Holley salary paid at half-time with the student services director position; the business manager, $80,253; the swimming pool supervisor, $39,495; and food services supervisor, $38644. At the first step are the principals at Hawthorne and Oak Heights, earning $83,697 per year. The curriculum director and high school vice principal's salary is at step three. His salary is half of the curriculum director salary, $83,387, plus half of the vice principal salary, $79,417. The second vice principal position at the high school and the vice principal position at the junior high are filled by teachers working on special assignments. The district's two confidential secretaries, who work for the superintendent and business manager, also received the additional steps. They are not represented by the district's unions. The board is continuing work on contract language with the administrators, said Board Chairman Jason Redick. "For me, it's like any other step," said Mike Reynolds, board member. "It's rewarding longevity." Sweet Home pays less than other districts, and SFIHS Principal Keith Winslow, for example, is still in the district after 32 years. Reynolds said that doesn't change his view that the district should reward longevity. Even after the next five years of steps, he believes the district will still be ahead by $76,000 on the savings from the administrative changes and four-day week. Chanz Keeney, board member, worded that savings would be wiped out. Winslow noted that the teachers' step at the end of last school year cost $105,000, and a delayed step in February will cost $153,000. "We're not begrudging that," Winslow said. "That will help keep good teachers in the district." But the administrators are only asking for $10,000, he said. That figure doesn't include withholdings, which amount to about $3,500. "I did vote for that," Keeney said of the teachers' contract. "I made a mistake." Now, other groups are after the same thing, he said. "Where are we going to get the money?" He said he would rather wait through this year and see how much is actually saved by the four-day week and other efforts to save money. "Are we just doing this blindly, hoping we have the money to do it?" Keeney asked. "Are we going to go to the community and say, we need more" I think steps are fine, but on the principal they're frozen then revisit them next year." Extra money could be spent to reduce large class sizes or meet other needs in the district, he said. Redick noted that administrators are still working five days a week, and they're working the longer school day too. He also noted that most administrators have more work. Last year, Winslow said, one administrator received a step increase of $800 per year. Administrators took pay freezes and furlough days like the other employees, he said. "We've been frozen for a good while now. We need to keep good administrators in the district." He's not sure that people are going to stay 30 years, he said, not when they can make more down the road. The five-year contract lets administrators get what the teachers get, he said. "It's about putting together a pay scale for our group so we can have some advancement of our salaries too." Schrader said the district wants to retain young administrators. As far as money goes, "we're more flexible now because we've made these changes," he said. Revenue forecasts look better, but the question is how accurate those will be, he said. The district has made significant savings so far. Board member David VanDerlip expressed concerns about making sure all employee groups are treated the same way: "It'd be good for morale if they all feel they're being treated the same." Voting yes on the new salary schedule were Mike E. Adams, Jan Sharp, Dale Keene, Redick, and Reynolds. Voting no were Keeney, VanDerlip and Kevin Burger. Jenny Daniels was absent. The step increase is effective retroactive to July 1. The board plans to consider contract language at next month's meeting. Monday night's decision applied only to the salary schedule. The Impact of Cuts Lisa Gourley, a learning resource center aide at the high school, told the board that a staff position cut there means students aren't getting the help they need. "We have students coming into the resource center," Gourley said. "They're begging for help, but they're not getting it." One student came in Monday looking for help with his work, she said. He worked on it by himself, and at the end of her day, he had only finished half of it. She stayed to help him. Not staying would have been cheating him. "It's not fair to cheat them," Gourley said. "It's unethical. It's a dereliction of duty." But some staff members' shifts end before the school day finishes because their hours have been cut. "People are leaving during the day," Gourley said. "The ones being cheated are the children." Gourley said she is a community member and taxpayer who has always been highly valued by her previous employers. "Why is it that now that I work within the system, looking out, I can see things, I am less valued?" she asked. It's the district's and its employees' job to teach students, help them read, help them get a job, go to col!ege and be taxpayers. "That's our job," she said. 'That's your job, and I don't understand what's going on. You're parents too. We shouldn't take education out of the hands of these children, not when they're asking for help." Burger said he was concerned about what Gourley told the board. Schrader said the district would definitely look into it. Velma Canfield, president of the Oregon School Employee Association, Chapter 3, which represents classified employees, said the decision to go to a four-day week raises concems about impacts on not only employees but, "most importantly, to our children." The OSEA provided comments from a survey-of about 80 of its 140 members to show the financial impact the board's decision has had on their lives. "Our workers have suffered not only a loss of substantial income, but in some case have been unable to maintain their much needed insurance benefits," Canfield said. "Our workers would also tell you that the overall system is suffering a great deal as well." The work is still there, but much of it is not being maintained in such a way that our district will be able to keep up on student records, state reports, transcripts for high school students moving on towards college, library upkeep, technology upkeep and maintenance, just.to name a few, Canfield said. "We have cases where staff has not been trained or temporary employees are being utilized in situations that could lead to serious injury to staff or others - this is a serious safety concem among the classified work force. We have bus routes that have been overloaded because of staff reductions, which now routinely arrive late each day at the school destination." The community is impacted too, she said. The lost income means they are unable to conduct their normal level of commerce, and some members have had to turn to social services to help buy food or pay monthly bills. Most important are the students, Canfield said. The Boys and Girls Club provides activities on Fridays, but it has been closed on two separate days and unavailable to children. On top of it, there is a $10 fee each day when a student attends. "Many of our families cannot afford a $10 fee each week from their family budget," Canfield said. "It is important to us that our school board understands that moving to this 4 day school week is not the answer for our community or our children." Insurance Disagreement A disagreement over insurance benefits are part of the grievance headed for arbitration. The union argues that some employees are not receiving the insurance benefits they were supposed to get based on the number of hours they work per day, while the district argues that the benefits are based on hours per week. One employee received a net paycheck of $6.36 for September. The district contributed three quarters of the benefit, which meant a substantial portion of the employee's salary were deducted to pay for insurance. That employee, Canfield said, was receiving six hours per day five days a week at the end of the 2011-12 school year. This year, the employee is working 6.25 hours per day four days a week. The employee was promised 6.5 hours per day and should be receiving the full insurance benefit this year. That employee, one of 14 that, Canfield said, are experiencing similar situation regarding insurance, was mentioned at last month's meeting. Strong provided information on each of those employees to the board. District-paid costs for the employee were $1,047.93. The employee's gross pay was $781.76. After deductions and the employee's portion of the insurance premium, $588.97, the employee had a paycheck of $6.36. Strong said he felt sympathetic, but that the situation shows how out of control insurance costs are. Of the total compensation of $1,829.69, "you can see where that money went." Combined, the district's contribution and the employee's contribution added up to $1,235.19 for the plan the employee chose, Strong said. Of that total, the district also paid some $334 to the Pubic Employee's Retirement System. Last year, in the same month, the employee took home a paycheck of $94.72. Among the other employees on the list, net paychecks were higher, but they have less expensive plans or no plan at all and the cost to the employee was lower, while a couple who paid more out of pocket for insurance received checks of$112.72 and $125.21. "At the end of the day, a person's got to be able to make a living," Keeney said. "You want people to stick around? You're going to stick around for a $6.36 paycheck? If we make positions that don't pay, we're going to lose staff." Adams said he felt for this person too, but he pointed out that several opted out of insurance and noted that the paycheck was small last year too, at $94. Gourley said she has been with the district 17 years and is only on step 10. She has had four hours per week cut. "I'm making less than I made many years ago," Gourley said. "If my husband didn't have a good job, I don't know how I could afford to work for this district. I couldn't." Canfield said the employees aren't going away. "We're going to continue coming out (to board meetings) in force," she said. "They're not treating us right. l'am giving information because I want the School Board to realize there's a problem. The main problem is the kids can't get what they need. It's because hours have been cut." REAL ESTATE SECTION am an awesome South Santiam River properly! I sit on 3.8 acres or 6.3 acres, if you prefer. I'm 2684 sf and have 3 bedrooms and 4 baths. 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