Chamois staff will see salary increase

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 6/29/22

Chamois R-1 school board members at their meeting last Wednesday approved a salary increase for all teaching staff that would coincide with HB 3002, which will provide a state grant for school …

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Chamois staff will see salary increase

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Chamois R-1 school board members at their meeting last Wednesday approved a salary increase for all teaching staff that would coincide with HB 3002, which will provide a state grant for school districts to meet a minimum salary of $38,000 for each teacher. The salary schedule approved by the school board will also provide a $500 pay increase for all teachers that are at Step 14, which rewards teachers who have received their master’s degree. The new salary schedule is contingent on the Missouri Governor signing the bill into law and will supersede the 2022-23 salary schedule previously adopted by the board on March 9. Money from the state will be available for school districts in December 2022 and May 2023, and the school district will pay the additional funds to the teachers in those two months instead of adding the money to each paycheck. 

Superintendent Lyle Best was quick to point out that these funds may not be available in subsequent years, and then the district would revert to the previously approved salary schedule. 

The school board also approved a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year. The district projects that it will have revenues totaling $2,950,856 and expenditures of $2,947,542 with an excess of $3,314. Projected revenues include local ($1,104,168), county ($105,000), state ($1,275,926), and federal ($465,762). Revenues showed a slight growth over last year’s projected revenues of $2,784,405. Anticipated expenses also grew by about 12% over last year, with most expenses consistent.

“This is probably one of the most difficult years to make up a budget, so it is important to remember things can still change,” Best said.

Best cited that COVID-19 has made financial planning difficult for the school district due to the addition of federal and state COVID relief funds, variances in food service and transportation programs, the uncertainty of inflation, and addressing the loss of student learning due to the pandemic. 

The adopted budget includes the school district’s participation in the $38,000 minimum salary program, the increase of $500 for teachers with their master’s degree, a 5% increase in non-certified staff members, a 2.5% increase for administrative staff members, an increase in health insurance benefits, life insurance, and disability benefits as well as a salary increase for non-certified staff. 

“The salary and benefits account for 60 percent of the budget, so it doesn’t leave a lot for other things,” Best said.

Certified staff salaries with benefits are estimated at $1,474,041, an increase over last year’s budget that set aside $1,377,670 for salaries. Non-certified staff salaries with benefits are estimated at $414,591, an increase from last year’s budgeted amount of $374,093. Salary and benefits for extra duty for certified and non-certified staff are budgeted at $49,626 for the coming year.

The school district projects that it will have 140 students enrolled in K-12, which is up from last year’s enrollment of 134. 

Best stressed that the district’s focus is on student academic achievement. To do that, the school needs to focus on improving the efficiency of the staff, facilities, and available technologies.

Board members also approved amending the 2021-22 budget to actual figures as of June 30. 

• Chamois R-1 approved a transfer of $274,016 from Fund 1 to Fund 4 for future capital projects, including building additions and improvements, HVAC improvements, asbestos abatement, parking lot resurfacing, campus ADA facility compliance, technology network, and communication system improvements. The total amount was made up of $170,389 in the 2021-22 fiscal year and $103,627 from the 2019-20 fiscal year.

• Board members made a policy change regarding the community use of school facilities, especially the weight room.

“The policy we had in place for school facility and community use doesn’t go in line with access we have given people to the weight room,” Best said. “We’ve found that we have 160 cards that have various access to the facility, and we’ve got 40-some people working here. That leaves a lot of cards with different access out there, which is a security, safety, and liability issue.”

Principal Jeremy McKague came up with a way that community members who want to use the weight room can continue to do so but also limit the number of cards in use. McKague’s proposal will ask anyone who wants to use the weight room to apply for a card renewal that will cost $50 per year. At the time of renewal, the individuals will also sign a waiver that holds the school district harmless of any liability.

“The fee I just kinda made up and thought you’d have to be serious enough to want to use the weight room but also not an insane amount of money,” McKague said. 

“My concern is that you are charging folks to use the weight room, but you’re not charging folks to use the gym,” President Steve Cramer said. “I’m very into our citizens using the facility as long as they are doing it respectfully. Our archery group uses the gym more than anybody, and we don’t pay for it. I think we have to be fair to all groups.”

“Community access is intended to be set up ahead of time, so you know who is going to be there and what the purpose is going to be and what the extent of the activity is,” Best said. “For the individual using the weight room, none of that takes place. There is a name associated with the card, but it’s continual access, and we have no clear idea of what someone is doing.”

Cramer noted that when there are practices for sports in the gym that the administration is not aware of what individuals are in the gym. 

“To me, it’s group versus individual,” VP Angela Hagenhoff said.

“So, it is right to charge an individual and not a group?” Cramer asked. “They are still folks in our district that paid tax money towards the facility. I struggle with it. It’s like we are picking and choosing who we charge.”

“We reserve the right to charge groups,” Best said. “From an administrative perspective, it doesn’t go far enough, but it is a step in the right direction.”

“I’m good with whatever we decide to do, but I do think for some people, $50 is going to be a lot,” Cramer said.

McKague noted that he had shut down all the cards that had not been used in a year. Individuals who would like to apply for a card to access the weight room or to renew the cards they have can contact the school. McKague noted that the weight room has camera units that record people going in and out of the school. The cards are also time-stamped when they are swiped.  

•The board approved the Professional Development (PD) plan for the 2022-23 school year. The PD Committee is made up of Chairperson Samantha Mitchem, Secretary/Treasurer Kate Kuschel, and committee members Misty Hilkerbaumer, Katie Troesser, and Carol Clark. The committee’s budget for the upcoming school year is estimated at $10,973. The state requires that 1% of formula funding be set aside for professional development. The PD’s goal is to help the district develop a program to improve student academic success to ensure that all students are at least proficient in reading and writing as well as grade-level math. Chamois also hopes to increase retention, recruit and hire effective leaders and teachers, and increase students’ readiness for careers and college. 

The focus this year will be on developing District Continuous Improvements (DCI) Framework, Social Emotional Training, improving school culture, and improving literacy instruction.

• Board members also approved the purchase of a 2005 Chevrolet Suburban for $4,900. The vehicle has 88,299 miles on it and is listed as being in fair condition.

Chamois R-1 has been looking for a larger vehicle that can be used to haul things and pull trailers, and this one looks like it fits the bill. The SUV could be used to haul the trailer for band or recyclables and has more space than the minivan for moving things.

It could also be used to transport students.

The Suburban will be the third vehicle currently owned by the school. Best and McKague believe there will be a great benefit to having the additional vehicle.

• Chamois R-1 set meal prices for the 2022-23 school year. Breakfast will cost $1.50 for students and $2.25 for adults. Lunches will cost students $2.65 and adults $3.50. Milk prices are set at $.35 per carton.

• Board members approved service bids for the upcoming school year. Milk will be purchased from Prairie Farms Dairy at the following prices: 1% white milk ($.3429), skim white milk ($.3476), 1% chocolate milk ($.3718), and 1% strawberry milk ($.3718). Prairie Farms noted that prices are subject to change.

• The school board approved propane from Lock’s Mill for $1.79 per gallon. The bid is good from Oct. 1, 2022, to April 30, 2023. Last year’s cost was $1.39 per gallon.

• Board members approved Havener’s Termite and Insect Control Company of Owensville to spray for pests in the cafeteria for $53 per month. Last year’s rate was $41 per month.

• The district is looking into a new phone and intercom system. Best has talked to several companies and is currently getting bids. 

“We’ve been paying $600 per month for phone service with old equipment,” Best said. 

Best said that it took several days and quite a lot of research to talk to the current phone company about upgrading service, and they did not seem very interested.

“We’re working with a company that, in my opinion, isn’t really beneficial anymore,” Best said. 

Best hopes to present estimates and options for a new system at next month’s meeting.

• Board members approved outstanding expenses for the month of $35,354.85.

• Chamois R-1 has the following ending balances in their accounts: general ($1,806,228), special ($103,471), and capital projects ($190,882).

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Best reported that several school district members attended a leadership conference in St. Louis that went very well.

“This was the first time in a long time that we had an actual leadership team with staff members representing local areas of the school district,” Best said. “It was a very positive experience to see and listen to school districts that are working on the same goals and outcomes that we are.”

Best has placed ads requesting bids in several local papers to asphalt the parking lots and improve the ADA ramp up to the gym. He has also reached out to several contracting companies, and no one has put in a bid to do the work.

“It’s been frustrating,” Best said.

• The lot behind the preschool is being cleared of the old structure for $2,500. 

• The Osage County Sheriff’s Office has been applied for a grant for a shared school resource officer. The sheriff’s department has worked to expand the program to include additional officers. Best will report back to the board as he receives additional information.

• Meeting dates for the Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) have changed to Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, 12, and 21. Best believes that the new dates will work better for the staff. Next month, board members will need to be selected who would like to be a part of the program.

PRINCIPAL’S REPORT

McKague noted that Coach Robbie Bates had an elementary basketball camp that went very well, with 18 to 20 kids attending.

He also reported that high school and junior high boys’ basketball shootouts went very well, with the Pirates able to play up to four games a day. The event was well-received by attending coaches.

• Student Council members Mason Lamb and Riley Davis, along with their sponsor, Megan Birmingham, reviewed activities for the 2022-23 school year. The student council purchased “drunk” goggles for students along with a program to prevent drunk driving. They sponsored homecoming with the theme “Alice in Wonderland,” along with a lock-in event.

“That was super successful with a big turnout,” Davis said. “We plan on doing that again next year.”

The student council hosted a successful blood drive but fell short of the amount needed to offer a scholarship to a student council member. 

Birmingham noted that the Red Cross sets the blood drives’ timeframes, so making the event more accessible to community members is hard.

“They don’t want to be here late because we don’t have enough people, but we don’t have enough people because they don’t stay open late,” Birmingham said.

The student council donated $250 to the American Cancer Society and had a drunk driving presentation at school.

They also hosted a professional development day.

“That was very, very informative,” Lamb said. “We had a lot of really good people come out and teach kids a lot about things that could change their lives.”

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