With three new Great Bend USD 428 Board of Education members in place on Monday, the 2015-2016 school board ratified the new contract for teachers and approved pay increases for all categories of district employees.
The annual base salary for a starting teacher increased by $500, to $35,500. Pay increases are not the same for everyone, but overall, teachers will receive a 1.9 percent increase; administrators and directors will receive a 1 percent increase; and classified employees will received a 1.4 percent increase (which was also described as 20 cents an hour more).
Superintendent Brad Reed said the last item to be settled in the bargaining process was salaries, because the district was waiting on the Legislature to pass a state budget. Faced with the financial realities in the state, he said, “we felt it was a very fair offer and a very good offer.”
Members of the Great Bend-National Education Association announced their ratification of the agreement on July 7.
Monday’s meeting began with outgoing school board members Wade Babcock, Doug Bender and Dwight Young being recognized for their service. Then new board members Lori Reneau, Chris Umphres and Susan Young began their terms. Assistant Superintendent Khris Thexton, clerk of the board, confirmed that each new board member has signed an oath of office at the Barton County Clerk’s Office.
Joyce Carter was elected president of the school board, and Umphres was elected vice president.
A number of appointments were approved, and Reed noted many were already in place, such as the Great Bend Tribune’s selection as the official district newspaper. New board members also received appointments: Young will serve as the Kansas Association of School Boards Governmental Relations Network Representative; Umphres will be the board representative to the Great Bend High School (GBHS) Hall of Fame Committee; and Reneau will be the board representative to the Supplemental Salary Committee.
Other items that are routinely approved at the start of a new fiscal year included adoption of a 1,116-hour calendar for the next school year; setting the mileage rate for approved travel of district employees at 57 cents, which is also the Kansas state rate; and setting the substitute teacher pay rate at $100 per day or $50 per half-day, which is unchanged from last year.
A change order of $11,800 was approved for the flooring project underway at Eisenhower Elementary School. Assistant Superintendent Thexton explained that the moisture (vapor) content in the concrete under new carpeting tested higher than it had originally, so the job will require more labor and the addition of a sealant.
“Is it fair to say if we hadn’t had a wet spring, we would not have found this?” Carter asked.
Thexton said that was true, but eventually the need would have become apparent. “I’m glad they did find it.”
New appointments approved Monday were John Westbrook, math teacher at Great Bend Middle School, and Mary Lytle, English teacher at GBHS. As the administrative district of the Barton County Special Education Cooperative, the board also approved the appointment of special education teacher Danielle Carrasco, who will teach in Hoisington.