Custodians, maintenance personnel and bus drivers reached a negotiated agreement with the Chadron Public Schools with a new two-year contract approved Monday.
While the contract includes a 78-cent raise added to each step in the first year and a 53-cent raise at each step the second year, personnel agreed to not take step increases for their longevity with the district for the duration of the contract.
The increase to the base for each step, however, puts the school district more in line with wages around town, said Board President Tom Menke, and should make the school more competitive in its hiring processes.
The new agreement adds just under $28,000 to the district’s personnel costs over the course of the next two years, should there be no changes in staffing.
The agreement also allows the non-certified staff members to choose between low and high deductible insurance plans and offers them a $100 per person wellness renumeration. The latter allows employees to be reimbursed – at least in part – for fitness activities, such as a membership at a gym or the aquatics center.
Board member Gary Hoffman expressed concern that non-certified staff will receive an aggregated 8 percent wage increase during the term of the new agreement, while certified staff and administrators have received far less. Superintendent Dr. Caroline Winchester urged the board to look more at actual dollars spent rather than percentage points.
In other business, the board elected to deny funding for the district’s FFA chapter to attend the upcoming National Convention. Four FFA members are qualified to compete at the national event, and the chapter requested $900 to aid in sending them and a sponsor to the contest.
“I believe that is an extra step that goes beyond the school’s responsibility,” said board member Boone Huffman.
Hoffman concurred, reminding the rest of the board that they put groups on notice earlier this year that traditional support of events like this may have to be eliminated as the school’s budget gets tighter.
Jim O’Rourke joined the two men in voting against the $900 expenditure, while Menke and Amanda Bannan were the only two to vote in favor of the measure. Board member Sandy Roes was present only by telephone and could not vote.
The board did approve, however, allowing the members attending the National FFA Convention to use a bus and driver for transportation from the school to the Rapid City Airport.