The Board of Education approved pay increases for three substitute and temporary employee positions effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Concerns were raised over the adequacy of the current wages not affected by the hike, while some board members supported the new schedule, which will raise up wages for bus drivers, pool employees and temporary help, during Monday’s meeting.
“I am really happy that we have increased this temporary pay schedule, and brought it up to par,” said board member Penny Vadla. “I wanted to thank the administration for that.”
A July 6 board action item for a pay schedule for the 2015-2016 school year included a substitute pay rate comparison among the Anchorage School District, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, Juneau School District and Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District. The Kodiak Island Borough School District was also included in the comparison.
The graph showed the Kenai Peninsula School District as having the lowest rates for substitute nurses and paraprofessionals. For substitute secretaries and custodians there was only one school district that paid less than Kenai’s, and for substitute food service, certified teachers and non-certified teachers, there were only two lower-paying school districts.
Board member Lynn Hohl, however, said rates for the aide-instructional assistants and the tutors and bilingual instructors (who are in the same category) are still insufficient. In the new schedule, the two positions are paid $10.50 per hour.
“They are working with our most at-risk kids and it just is an inequity to me,” Hohl said.
Hohl made a motion to increase the rates, which failed.
“I have a problem every year that … especially the people that are on the front line with our kids are the lowest paid people on the salary scale,” Hohl said. “I would like to raise them to $11, and I know we don’t have any money.”
Board member Marty Anderson said he wouldn’t approve the motion because the budget is already “razor thin.” He said he wanted to see what the cumulative cost would be prior to approving a $0.50 increase.
Board member Sunni Hilts said she would not support the motion.
“It’s not because I don’t support ‘frontline people’,” Hilts said. “We’ve got hundreds of them and I wish we could give everybody a raise.”
The pay increase for the three of 14 substitute and temporary positions on the schedule is in response to state-mandated minimum wage hikes, said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Dave Jones.
Jones said the activity bus driver position rate is slated to increase to from $17.50 to $19.50, for example, because on Jan. 1, 2016, minimum wage will go up from $8.75 to $9.75. According to state statute, bus drivers are required to be paid double the minimum wage.
Director of Human Resources Joann Riener said the action item was before the board now so that the school district stays ahead of state required wage hikes.
The last time the school district raised wages was for 10 substitute positions on Aug. 4, 2014, and a raise for activity bus drivers on Jan. 12, 2015, according to Jan. 12 and Aug. 4 board action items.
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