School board OKs salary plan; district erases $1 million deficit

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Cape Girardeau School District erased a $1 million deficit this school year and the school board celebrated Monday by approving 3.1 percent base pay raises for faculty and staff.

"We should have confetti and balloons," said school board president Sharon Mueller. "We are not going to go in the hole."

The board unanimously approved the new pay plan recommended by superintendent Dr. David Scala and endorsed by teachers on the district's salary committee.

"Personnel reaped the benefit of our getting our finances straight," board member Charles Bertrand said.

"It's tough to make up a $1 million deficit without an increase in student enrollment," he said, questioning how it was accomplished.

Finance director Brenda McCowan credited increased state funding, conservative spending and lower heating expenses for the financial turn around this school year. She said a mild winter helped keep heating expenses down.

The pay raises will cost the district just more than $1 million, school officials said.

The district will have $1.2 million available for pay raises, more than enough to cover the increased personnel costs for the 2006-2007 fiscal year, officials said.

The added revenue will come from additional state funding of $480,000, elimination of more than half a million dollars in bond-related expenses and a projected $232,000 fund balance, McCowan said.

School board members said they promised to improve teacher salaries and they did. "I think it is a good-faith effort on the part of the board," Mueller said.

But board members and Scala said they hope to raise teacher salaries even higher in future years to bring them in line with the state average.

Starting teachers in the Cape Girardeau School District will make $25,253 next school year. But that's still below this current school year's starting pay for teachers in the Jackson, Scott City, Nell Holcomb, Oak Ridge, Delta, Dexter, Poplar Bluff and Sikeston school districts.

But when salary step increases are included, experienced Cape Girardeau school teachers can earn more locally than in many of the other surrounding school districts, administrators and teachers said.

The plan provides an adequate salary increase for veteran teachers, district officials and teachers said.

With returning teachers moving up the salary schedule, the average pay raise for teachers would be more than 4 percent, school officials said.

In other action, the board voted to spend nearly $36,000 to replace sections of the Central Junior High School roof and more than $26,000 to paint parts of the exterior of Franklin Elementary School and the white trim on the junior high school field house.

335-6611, extension 123

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