Salary increases set for school personnel
The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) District school committee and All-Island School Committee (AISC) finished up business for the 2007-08 school year in meetings held back-to-back on Monday night in the high school's library.
The high school committee meeting, chaired by Susan Mercier, started at 7 pm with an end-of-the-year financial report from school business administrator Amy Tierney.
Noting deficits in several departments, such as advertising costs for the principal's office, ice time for athletics, and graduation expenses, she requested budget transfers from money left from salary increments that was not used because of changes in staffing.
Ms. Tierney also suggested transferring $10,000 to the buildings and maintenance fund in preparation for installing catalysts in the high school's heating system for fuel efficiency. The total amount of budget transfers from salary increments came to $38,000.
Noting that the high school's budget balance totaled $536,220 to date, superintendent of schools James Weiss said, "We're in good shape at the end of the year."
Ms. Tierney said $1.1 million of revenue is expected by June 20. So far, $253,000 has been spent from the high school's excess and deficiency (E&D) fund, leaving a balance of $1.6 million. Ms. Tierney said by law, the school district is allowed to keep 5 percent of the annual budget in the E&D fund, which comes to $825,000. "If everything goes as projected, we will be able to return some money to the towns," she said.
The school committee approved the budget transfers 7 to 1, with Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter objecting because he said he thought the money being set aside for the heating system upgrade should be returned to the towns and budgeted for later.
In other business, incoming principal Steve Nixon discussed the budget subcommittee's meeting in May and his proposals for using E&D funds. His list included a Rosetta Stone language training program package, scanners for textbook inventory, a point of sales system similar to a debit card for the cafeteria, and air-conditioning for the copy center.
Assistant principal Neal Weaver requested $100,000 from E&D funds to complete a project to replace bleachers and the press box at the athletic fields.
The school committee also discussed the possibility of purchasing two hybrid cars to provide more cars for off-Island transportation for school administrators and personnel to save money on ferry transportation costs.
That brought the total requests for funds from E&D to $247,853. Mr. Manter again objected to using E&D money as a funding source. The school committee voted 7-1 to approve the expenditures, with Mr. Manter casting the dissenting vote.
The high school meeting adjourned at 8 pm, immediately followed the AISC meeting, chaired by Up-Island Regional School District committee member Daniel Cabot.
Mr. Weiss presented his recommendations for management and non-union salary adjustments, which had been previously approved by all of the Island school committees.
Earlier this year, the AISC's personnel subcommittee recommended setting aside a pool of 5 percent of the total administrative salary fund for the superintendent to divide up among salary increases for administrative and non-union staff across the Island to address some inequities that have developed as a result of recent union contract negotiations.
Mr. Weiss said he started by giving everyone a 3.5 percent cost of living increase, which he also recommended for school bus drivers. He then determined additional salary increases for some personnel based on comparable positions and salaries in other school districts and performance evaluations. "It doesn't put them up where they need to be, but it puts them closer," Mr. Weiss said.
Although he said he thought three people on the list should receive a bigger increase, he added, "We just don't have it." Using Assistant Superintendent Laurie Halt as an example, Mr. Weiss said he was recommending a $5,000 increase over her fiscal year 2008 (FY08) salary of $80,000.
"Laurie should be making at least $90,000, but that would take away from increases for others," Mr. Weiss pointed out. Her increase is intended to provide some incentive, he said, since based on salaries for assistant superintendents on the Cape and looking at per-diem rates for teachers, she would be better off returning to the teaching ranks.
Although he agreed with the salary increases, Mr. Manter suggested that next year, perhaps there should be a two percent cap on increases on salaries over $100,000. The AISC voted unanimously to approve the following salary increases: Ms. Halt from $80,000 to $85,000; Ms. Tierney from $85,000 to $90,000; student services director Dan Seklecki from $108,873 to $115,000; ELL director Deb Hart from $65,920 to $68,000; administrative assistant Edith Rousseau from $57,394 to $60,000; administrative assistant/ accountant Janet Sylvia from $57,394 to $60,000; administrative assistant/ accountant Donna Michalski from $46,666 to $48,066; grants coordinator Pat Ingalls from $25,0608 to $27,000; and transportation manager James Flynn from $66,628 to $68,960.
Mr. Weiss also presented his proposed goals for the 2008-09 school year, culled from a list of goals the AISC suggested in his annual evaluation. After some discussion, the committee agreed that Mr. Weiss already addresses several of the goals in his day-to-day job.
They voted to adopt four priority goals:
*Develop ways to improve the evaluation/supervision system for teachers and the professional development for all staff.
*Continue the mathematics and writing initiatives begun previously.
*Seek ways to develop leadership at "lower" levels (master teacher, etc.). Develop ways to recruit and keep capable teachers (housing, mentoring, etc.).
*Continue work on public relations and community outreach, including improved ways of detailing schools' and the superintendent's office's budget to the broader community.
The AISC concluded the meeting by approving a first reading of a policy regarding the administration of prescription medicine to students.