08-19-03: Celina teachers agree to
forgo pay raise to cut costs
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
Celina City Schools teachers and certified staff have ratified a
one-year contract calling for zero increase in salary and double insurance fees.
"This is a huge concession on the part of our teachers. In my
mind, this is a sacrifice that embodies their professionalism and dedication,"
Superintendent Fred Wiswell said at a Monday night board of education meeting.
The board approved the tentative agreement with the Celina Education
Association for a period from May 2, 2003, until Aug. 31, 2004.
The CEA agreement comes in the wake of state budget cuts to education
for the next two years, which leave the Celina system as well as the majority of area
schools projecting budget deficits by 2005. Celina schools is looking at a $2.6 million
deficit in 2005, which is why board of education members have been strongly discussing
putting a new levy in front of voters.
CEA President Phil Long, a teacher with nearly three decades'
experience, said he is very proud of the CEA membership in forgoing what will amount to 28
months with no increase in pay.
The last teachers' salary increase was 3 percent in May 2002.
"It does show the dedication of the staff. These are tough times.
But we cannot let this set a precedent ... Teachers also have to go to the grocery and the
gasoline pumps," Long said.
The administrative staff including Wiswell also will see no increase in
Also at the meeting, board members learned federal funds to the Head
Start program have increased 1.5 percent, which is tied to a required 1.5 percent cost of
living increase to Head Start staff. Head Start is funded federally, but Celina City
Schools is the fiscal agent and must approve any financial matters.
The board approved the elimination of the full-time substitute position
at Head Start effective Sept. 2. Other Head Start contract changes approved included
decreasing the number of workdays for the childcare provider and childcare aide from 230
to 210 days and splitting the Head Start secretary position to four hours in the Head
Start position and four hours as building secretary.
The board approved hiring 80 substitute teachers for the Celina school
district as needed. Wiswell explained that no permanent substitutes will be hired this
school year due to budget considerations.
However, in order to be competitive with other districts' pay
schedules, the board approved an increase in substitute rates to $75 per day for the first
10 completed days and $85 per day thereafter.
"I believe if we are not in line with other districts, substitutes
will simply not want to come here," Wiswell said.
In addition to his responsibilities as athletic director, Dan Otten
will also serve as head track coach with Walt Shreffler as assistant.
Board approval was unanimous with board member Joe Bath strongly
suggesting that Otten "look at mentoring someone on staff to become head coach."
"The board wants (Otten's) primary responsibility to be athletic
director," Bath said.
Board members entered in an executive session to consider an
investigation of charges/complaints against an employee and also to consider dismissal of
an employee as well as to consider a matter required to be kept confidential by federal or
state law. Board members would not release any specific information.
No action was taken following the session.
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