clopton board meeting

One in a series of split votes at last Tuesday’s meeting

CLOPTON – The Pike County R-III district board voted last Tuesday to increase pay for several categories of employees.

Pay, including usually routine step increases for certified staff, including teachers, has been stagnant for several years as the district has tried to right its fiscal ship.

A step increase passed unanimously, but the board divided on increases for other categories of employees.

That included a corresponding 1.5 percent increase for some nursing instructors at PLTC and a 2.5 percent raise for returning administrators and classified staff, who fill hourly positions that don’t require certification. Clopton faculty who have been maxed out on the gains available through the salary schedule received a one-time stipend of 1.5 percent, with Superintendent Mark Harvey recommending the board revisit the structure of the salary schedule that left them “frozen.”

A minority on the board expressed an openness to the increases in principle, but said they did not feel the impact on the district’s volatile financial situation had been adequately explored.

“I have a hard time paying more out if we’re deficit spending. So I guess I want to know that we’re not deficit spending before we pay more out,” board member Greg Talbert said. “I guess I’d like to see an updated budget.”

Board member Christy Kuntz added that she worried that raises would crowd out the possibility of hiring more help for teachers or force staff reductions down the road.

Harvey told the board that he felt the increases were reasonable. and that low pay was making the district less competitive.

“We ended the year with increased balances, so I think it would be prudent to give these folks a step,” Harvey said. “Those folks deserve that raise — not even a raise, it’s a step.”

PLTC director Martin Hanley addressed the worried board members on behalf of his classified staff.

“Our classified staff, they haven’t had a thing in years, and they don’t make much. I totally understand where you’re coming from, but I really believe that we’ve got to do something for that classified staff.”

Talbert and Clay Lockard voted against all of the increases but the faculty step increase. Kuntz voted against the increase for administrators and the stipend for “frozen” staff.

Send questions and comments to athorp@pikecountynews.com.

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