by Sarah Einselen
Caston school board members Wednesday voted to add $400 to $700 stipends to its classified staffers’ pay this year, a move the superintendent says comes after three to four years without raises or cost-of-living adjustments.
“After looking at where we finished this past year, we felt we were in a position to give something back to our employees and thank them,” said Superintendent Dan Foster.
The school board had awarded similar stipends to its teaching staff in November. Stipends for classified staff, including secretaries, aides, bus drivers and lunch personnel, were based on a similar model, Foster said.
In mid-year 2011, Foster said, the school was around $300,000 in the red and made some “difficult decisions” to bring school finances back into shape, including reductions and leaving some positions unfilled after retirements.
It made little difference for the 2010-2011 year, but the impact on 2011-2012 was larger, Foster said.
“We actually did grow our general fund balance about $100,000 this past year,” he said, “and we’re proud of that. We’re going to continue to keep an eye on that because we never know what’s going to happen in Indianapolis.”
The school ended 2012 with about $3.1 million in its general fund. “I know there’s a lot of schools in Indiana that would be envious of that balance,” Foster said.
Most classified staff at Caston still operate under salary schedules that include steps, or automatic compensation rate increases after certain durations of employment with the schools. A few newer employees were hired without the automatic step cycle, Foster said, and the stepped salary schedule was not implemented with bus drivers, who are paid a flat rate.
Some employees have moved up to the next salary step, Foster said, but such factors, as well as employees’ length of time at Caston and whether jobs are year-round or school-year ones, are taken into account when figuring the amount of a stipend.
Classified staff members have stuck with the school system through some hard times, Foster said, including having to do more with less, “and haven’t really gotten anything for that.”
“We were very excited to get that passed and appreciate those staff members for their years of service,” he added.
Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-732-5151.
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