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D-424 contract not expected to strain budget

GENOA – The three-year contract approved last week by the Genoa-Kingston School District 424 Board included two years of salary increases, but school officials don’t expect the budget to change much.

However, several factors make salary expenditures difficult to predict.

Superintendent Joe Burgess said the district plans to spend about $9 million on salaries next year. He said the budget should stay the same, but could fluctuate by a few hundred thousand dollars depending on the number of employees who decide to retire.

Brad Shortridge, assistant superintendent for finance and operations, said about 10 percent of the district’s staff members will be eligible for full retirement benefits by 2017.

If no one decides to retire in the next few years, the district could spend up to $9.2 million on salaries. If everyone who’s eligible decides to retire, that portion of the budget could go down to $8.8 million.

“That’s the volatility of the budget,” Burgess said.

The agreement between the district and the Genoa-Kingston Education Association includes a salary freeze in the first year of the three-year contract, but certified staff members get an extra $700 at the end of 2012-13, and classified staff get an extra $500.

Certified staff members, employees certified to teach, get a 2.5 percent base salary increase in the second year of the contract and a 2.75 percent base salary increase in the third. The district employs 135 certified staff members.

The majority of certified staff members who worked in 2012-13 will make at least $650 more in the 2013-14.

Shortridge said most teachers will make about $1,500 to $2,000 more a year than the previous year by the third year of the contract, depending on their education level.

The starting salary for a Genoa-Kingston teacher in 2013-14 will be 2.5 percent more than it was the previous year, starting at $39,346 and topping out at $75,346.

In the 2014-15 school year, when the 2.75 base salary increase is implemented, the lowest base salary will become $40,428 and the highest will be $76,428.

The district’s 95 classified staff members, which include school cooks, janitors and bus drivers, get a 2.75 base salary increase in the second year of the contract and a 3 percent increase in the third year.

Most classified employees who work in 2012-13 should get at least 25 cents an hour more in 2013-14, and at least 33 cents more in the next year, Shortridge said.

Once the 2.75 percent increase is implemented in 2013-14, the lowest starting hourly wage for certain classified staff members will be $11.13. With the 3 percent increase, those wages will become $11.46 in the 2014-15.

The highest hourly wage for a classified employee in 2013-14 will be $27.23, which will increase to $27.56 the next year.

The district also changed its salary structure from nine lanes to five lanes. The salary schedule rewards teachers for furthering their education and increases teachers’ salaries when they reach higher education standards.

Previously, teachers reached a new salary schedule when they completed nine, 18 and 27 hours of school beyond their bachelor’s degree. The same schedule was applied after a teacher obtained a master’s degree.

With the new contract, teachers with a bachelor’s degree move up once they’ve completed 16 hours toward a master’s degree and when they obtain a master’s degree. The same schedule is applied when they pursue a second master’s degree or doctorate.

“They get a straight dollar amount that’s tied to what it costs for classes at a state university,” Burgess said.

He said another reason it’s so difficult to predict what the district’s salary expenditures will be in the next few years is that officials don’t know how many employees will move up the salary schedule.

The new contract makes no change to employees’ insurance or benefits.

Burgess said the contract approved Tuesday was the result of a compromise between the two parties.

“I think it’s the right thing to do for everyone,” he said. “We recognized that everyone needs to meet in the middle.”

A message left with Matt Pierce, president of the Genoa-Kingston Eduction Association, was not immediately returned.

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