Havre Daily News
For employees of Havre Public Schools, there wasn't much to be mad about at Tuesday's school board meeting.
Nearly all of the Havre school district's employees, from the lowest-paid part-time worker to the second-highest-ranking administrator, will receive a 4 percent base salary increase each year for the next three years. Superintendent Kirk Miller is the only district employee not covered under the contracts unanimously approved Tuesday by the school board.
The pay raises were negotiated separately with representatives of the teachers, paraprofessionals, Teamsters and administrators, and voted on separately at the board's monthly meeting in the Havre Middle School auditorium. The contracts will take HPS through the 2007-08 school year.
"This is a culmination of a lot of work on both sides of the table, and gives a good boost to the educators," school board member Joe Marino said about the agreement between the Havre Education Association and the school board, a statement he echoed for the other agreements. "(The agreement) should send a message to the educators that we are behind them."
Karla Bolken, spokeswoman for the HEA, which is the teachers union, agreed.
"We worked pretty hard on it," Bolken said today. "Four percent is good for us."
Bolken said that because of skyrocketing insurance costs, the initial board offer of 2.5 percent wasn't going to be enough.
"We go to the table representing all of the teachers, and we're there to improve our situation. We couldn't walk away from the table with less than we came with," she said.
The 4 percent base salary raise, which is in addition to raises given for years spent teaching and for additional studies, means a much larger raise for educators. The board normally offers a percentage increase that includes those factors, she said. She described the school board, whom the HEA had been negotiating with since late April, as "very understanding."
These raises translate into thousands of dollars for educators. First-year teachers with a bachelor's degree will see their annual salary raise from $23,500 in the 2004-05 school year to $26,435 for 2007-08. On the higher end of the spectrum, the salaries of those teachers who are 22-year veterans of the district and have more education than a master's degree will rise from $47,248 to $53,005.
Likewise, administration salaries will rise. During the 2004-05 school year, the lowest-paid administrator made $49,152. According to numbers provided by the superintendent's office that include wage increases for experience, education, performance and responsibility, the same administrator will be making $55,531 in 2007-08. The assistant superintendent, who is the highest paid administrator covered under the contract, made $77,434 last school year, and will be making $87,252 by 2008.
According to their contract, a first-year paraprofessional can expect to make $8.59 an hour this fall, and will finish out the contract at $9.34. Librarians will get $8.63 next year and will end the 2007-08 school year at $9.38. Those employees who provide support to the classroom will make $10.02 next year, and $10.34 the last year of the contract.
In the 2004-05 school year, the lowest-paid Teamster made $10.07 an hour, and the highest paid made $15.70 an hour. Those two people, as well as everyone in between, can expect a 4 percent increase each year until 2008 on top of any wage increases due to experience and longevity.
Miller said he was happy all district employees were able to get such a substantial raise, and that it should help to recruit new teachers to the area, as well as keep those the district has.
"I believe this is an appropriate investment in a high quality team," he said.
Included in all of the agreements was a substantial break on health insurance costs for the employees, with the district agreeing to a $1,000 one-time payment for all full-time employees who worked during the 2004-05 school year. Part-time employees will receive a prorated amount of that payment. According to Ric Floren, the district's director of operations, insurance premiums jumped by 143 percent recently, and the across-the-board payment was meant to offset those costs.
For the next two school years, teachers will receive a $50-a- month increase in insurance payments from the district, which will mean $425 a month for 2005-06 and $475 a month 2006-07.
Full-time paraprofessionals will get $110 per month toward the health insurance plan for the 2006-07 school year, a $50 jump from last year. They will receive $160 a month the next year. Part-timers will get $60 per month in 2005-06, and can expect $85 a month the next year.
The Teamsters will receive a $50-a-month increase for the next two school years, regardless of whether they are part- or full-time employees.
Administrators' health insurance will be fully paid for the length of their contract.
Both the HEA and district administrators received a similar one-year contract last summer. The Teamsters Local No. 2, which includes the district's transportation, food services, custodial/maintenance and secretary groups, and the Havre Paraprofessional Education Association, which is the union for those workers formerly referred to as teacher's aides and tutors and also includes librarians, both had three-year contracts that expired after the 2004-05 school year.
The school board also approved the district's preliminary budgets for the 2005-06 school year last night. They unanimously voted to approve $6.35 million for the elementary schools, including the middle school, and $4.27 million for the high school. These budgets were first proposed to the board May 31.