Cape Girardeau School Board takes heat over new stipend system

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Teachers confronted the Cape Girardeau School Board about a new system of allocating stipends for extra duties during their meeting Monday.

Julia Jorgensen, who heads the student recognition programs for the high school, said the process to establish the new payment schedule was not communicated with the staff.

"It was not transparent and that's what concerns me," she said. The stipend system includes payments to coaches, club advisers and department chairs.

Cross country and track coach Mark Hahn and band director Neil Casey also addressed the board about establishing the new system, which is based on experience with the extra duties. The compensation system was based on teaching experience.

Employees who make more than what is allowed under the new system will have their stipend frozen at the current level. School officials said the new system will save the district $6,493.

"The bottom line, folks, is we are stewards of taxpayer money," board member Laura Sparkman said.

The proposal passed by a 5 to 2 vote with board members Paul Nenninger and Tony Smee opposing the measure. Nenninger said the board was "backed into a corner." Given the time constraints to establish a system for the new school year, he said the board had no option but to pass the measure even though members were given little time to review it.

"To me that doesn't show good planning or operational communication," Nenninger said.

The stipend review process began during the 2007-2008 school year with a committee of teachers, coaches and administrators. During the 2008-2009 school year, superintendent Dr. Jim Welker and other school officials reviewed the committee's work to produce a new schedule.

Welker said the review of stipends will continue with more formalized job descriptions and a process to identify changes in responsibilities.

"I think it is something that is a work in progress," Welker said.

Board members said they wanted to see more work on the proposal by the fall with monthly updates on the process.

Separately, the board approved buying 160 new computers for Alma Schrader Elementary, Clippard Elementary, Central Middle School and Central Junior High School for $101,120 from Innovative Idea Integration of Jackson.

The board increased breakfast and lunch prices. Lunch prices went up by $0.25, which will bring the cost to $1.50 for elementary school students.

The board also approved the adoption of a new performance-based superintendent evaluation tool from the Missouri School Board Association, which will cost $350 in training for board members.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Cape Girardeau, MO

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