By Lindsey Ziliak
---- — The Kokomo School Corp. board of trustees Monday approved merit-based raises for its administrators and classified staff including bus drivers, custodians and secretaries.
The employees will receive 2 percent stipends in December 2013 and 2014 and 1 percent pay raises in July 2014 and 2015 if they are rated effective or highly effective on their yearly evaluations, Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said.
Hauswald said the proposal was fair since many teachers will be getting raises next year.
The teachers’ bargaining agent, the Kokomo Teachers Association, elected this year not to open the teachers’ contracts, which now extend through 2015. Because of this, the average teacher will receive an approximate 1.5-percent increase in each of the next two years, Hauswald said.
“Our board has been very fiscally responsible,” he said. “From this, we are confident that this is the right thing to do. We understand this is a different process since we were not involved in collaborative bargaining this year, but these classified and administrative raises are proportional to what our certified staff members will receive.”
The base-pay increase is the first of its kind in the district since the 2008-09 school year. Kokomo School employees received stipends in 2011 and 2012, but those were the first stipends in more than five years.
These pay increases will cost the district $900,000 over the next four years.
The superintendent is not included in the list of administrators receiving raises. By law, his contract must be handled separately, usually in December, said Dave Barnes, director of communications for the district.
Those on the list for pay increases include principals, assistant principals, custodians, maintenance staff, food service employees, bus drivers, secretaries, business staff and some curriculum directors.
Gerri Smalling, director of business affairs, said the district can offer these bonuses because of its fiscal responsibility.
“Our school corporation, with the support of this board, has been very conservative during the past few school years as changes in funding added expenses to our general fund,” Smalling said. “This conservative approach now allows our corporation to fund these recommended stipends and salary increases for our classified and administrative employees.”
School board president Joe Dunbar said increases like these are needed to keep the district competitive and help it attract and keep quality employees. He said he’s glad the board was able to approve it.
“After four difficult years of assimilating new state laws and adjusting to vastly different state funding sources, we, as a board, are elated to be able to make a meaningful upward adjustment to staff salaries,” he said. “This board hopes these increases for most of our staff further our goal of providing truly competitive salaries in the years to come.”
Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune education reporter, can be reached at 765-454-8585 or at firstname.lastname@example.org