School board weighs budget |

School board weighs budget

Salaries biggest question at meeting tonight

— If the collective bargaining team doesn’t have a recommendation on staff salaries when the Steamboat Springs School Board meets tonight, board Treasurer Tom Sharp said he is prepared to offer a plan of his own.

Sharp said he wants to make sure the district doesn’t repeat the drawn-out negotiations that occurred last year, when teachers didn’t find out their salaries until March. Last year the bargaining team and the board decided on a 1.85-percent increase that, when coupled with step increases for experience, averaged out to a 4.1-percent increase overall.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. in the George P. Sauer Human Services Center Board Room.

Sharp said he wants to expedite salary negotiations because teachers often work well into the school year not knowing how much they are making.

“That’s inappropriate for any employer, public or private,” Sharp said. “I’ve proposed that in June the board make an increase (in salaries) to all staff effective Aug. 1.”

Sharp said he thinks teachers need a supplemental cost of living adjustment.

His proposal is that, each fiscal year, teachers receive a step increase added to a percentage that equals the current Consumer Price Index. Currently, the Steamboat Springs School District complies with the Denver-Boulder CPI, which is not representative of resort towns with a higher cost of living. The CPI analysis is expected to come out toward the beginning of August. As of December, the Denver-Boulder CPI was 4.1 percent.

The Steamboat Springs Education Association has put pressure on the school board to increase teacher salaries. SSEA President Mike Smith said teacher salaries in Steamboat Springs are not competitive with other resort towns.

The bargaining team has been working to decide on a percentage increase that the district can afford. Sharp said if the bargaining team is not prepared by tonight’s meeting, he will make a motion to accept the proposal that he has drafted.

Overall, the preliminary budget for the 2001-02 school year is $14.6 million. That includes an estimated 3.83-percent salary increase for teachers and support staff, said Finance Director Dale Mellor.

With only $14.1 million in revenues anticipated, the preliminary budget calls for the district to dip into its reserves to the tune of some $500,000. That will still leave the district with a healthy reserve of more than $5 million, Mellor said.

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