Steamboat Springs School District bargaining teams agree on compensation plan

Teresa Ristow

— Bargaining teams for the Steamboat Springs School District hammered out a tentative compensation plan for classified and certified staff Tuesday, which if approved will leave the district with a $399,000 deficit budget for next year.

The plan includes STEP increases for eligible employees, a 0.75 percent raise, boosting salaries for a few classified positions to within market range and moving a few counselors up on the salary schedule based on educational credits.

The plan will now go out to staff members who will vote on approval, and then will go to the Steamboat Springs School Board for a vote.

“The board is going to swallow hard on any deficit spending,” said Board President Roger Good, who is the board representative for collaborative bargaining.

The proposed plan will reduce district reserves from about $7.8 million to $7.4 million.

No specific contract options or their respective costs have been presented to the board as an option so far, but a placeholder amount of $429,000 in deficit spending was included as part of a district budget update at the board’s last meeting.

“I think the sentiment on the board was reluctance to be spending a lot of money over and above anticipated revenue,” said Good, who told bargaining teams Tuesday that he was unsure how the board would vote on the proposed compensation plan.

The district is operating on a budget of about $25 million for 2015-16.

The proposed plan factors in an increase in insurance costs to the district of 13.9 percent, or $274,000, a retirement cost increase of $122,000, a worker’s compensation increase of $55,000 and then adds nearly $499,000 to provide STEP increases, the 0.75 percent raise and about $33,000 to bring a few classified positions up to within 5 percent of market average pay.

The bargaining teams also agreed Tuesday to advance some counselors on the salary schedule based on educational credits from their master’s programs, when applicable, at a cost of $15,000 to the district next year.

The proposed 2015-16 budget includes a projected increase in state funding based on an estimated 50 more students in the district compared with the current school year, but also includes some costs for “enhancements” like $71,000 for a full-time instructional coach, $20,000 for a contracted communications specialist and $58,000 to cover two employee sabbaticals.

Some bargaining team members questioned whether district officials might rethink any of the enhancements, namely the cost of the instructional coach, to bring down the deficit.

“We’d like admin or the board to reconsider some of our enhancements,” said Emily Schenk, a counselor at Soda Creek Elementary.

The tentative compensation plan will now be presented to staff at meetings at each school building and at the transportation department facility this week, before staff plan to vote on it Friday.

If approved, the School Board could review and vote on the plan as early as its Monday night meeting.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow

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