Licensed staff in the Ottawa school district, including therapists and teachers, will receive a 3.5 percent increase on their base salary during the 2017-18 school year.
Ottawa school board members voted 4-0 Monday to pass the largest percentage increase on base salary since the state’s financial crisis almost 10 years ago.
“My hope, at least, has always been to get to a 5 percent [salary increase] on the base,” Jeanne Stroh, Ottawa school district superintendent, said Wednesday. “Our base salary is $38,948, and it has always been my hope that we could get that first step at or above $40,000 a year. So we weren’t quite able to do that this year, we’re still short, but we’re hoping that we’ll be able to get that next year.”
Three board members declared a conflict of interest and did not vote. By Kansas law and board policy, if a board member stands to gain financially from any decision that is voted on, they are required to declare a conflict of interest and leave the room, Stroh said. Each of those board members with a conflict of interest — Brian Kane, Harold Wingert and Diana Staresinic-Deane — has a spouse that is a licensed staff member with the district, she said.
The Ottawa school board also voted 7-0 for directors and administrators who are not new to the district to also receive a 3.5 percent increase on their base salary. Those directors and administrators receiving the increase include: Dave Morford, principal of Ottawa High School; Brent Lane, assistant principal at OHS; Brad Graf, OHS assistant principal and athletic director; Kyle Kost, Ottawa Middle School assistant principal and athletic director; Carmen Schaefer, principal of Garfield Elementary School; Austin Entress, principal of Lincoln Elementary School; Ryan Cobbs, assistant superintendent; Jeanne Stroh, superintendent; and Tim Sipe, director of transportation.
Within that vote was also for all returning classified employees will receive a 50 cent per hour increase this school year. In addition, the vote included salary increases to some directors and administrators “in lieu of the 3.5 percent increase to pay for additional workload and/or bring current salary up to market value,” according to school board documents. Those included: Dean Grell, directory of technology; Teri George, director of finance; Darrell Moore, director of maintenance; Shannon Fanning, principal of Sunflower Elementary School, and for the director of special education.
Stroh said the district has been able to provide base salary increased to licensed staff for the last five years — at least since she’s been serving the district. The district works with the Ottawa Education Association on the master contract, as well as salary increases to determine what is appropriate for that school year.
“We don’t negotiate what’s the least we can give, and [the Ottawa Education Association doesn’t] negotiate what’s the most they can get,” she said. “We look at the budget together and decide on a number of things, including insurance benefits and all of those kinds of things, and as we got our enrollment numbers, which really dictate our budget, then we looked at our numbers and the new money we have coming in and decided on a 3.5 percent increase on the base.”
The decision for the increase amount came from looking at the new money the district has coming, Stroh said. It costs the district $214,000 for every 1 percent raise, she said.
One thing Stroh said she wanted the public to understand is that salary increases only come out of the district’s general fund — not bond project money or capital outlay. Bond project money can only be used specifically for bond project ventures, and capital outlay is money for maintenance and upkeep of facilities.
The school board’s next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Oct. 23 in the district’s central office, 1401 S. Ash St., Ottawa.