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SCHOOL DISTRICT SHORTFALLS, PAY INCREASES RAISE QUESTIONS

An unexpected revenue shortfall this year and next year along with recent pay increases for union and non-union employees may have sparked confusion and criticism against the Brookings-Harbor School Board and the superintendent.

To help clarify the situation, The Pilot examined the districts financial and meeting records to determine a timeline of recent events.

The Pilot also determined the salaries of teaching and administrative staff positions under recently signed contracts and agreements (see related story, Page 2A).

The most recent event occurred in January when the school board unanimously approved a 2 percent increase each year for the next two years for non-union staff.

The 2 percent increase, which will cost approximately $18,000, will take effect July 1, the start of the 2002-03 school year.

The district currently has 17 non-union employees, including administrators such as the district superintendent, principals and vice principals, and non-administrators such as a payroll clerk, financial technician and transportation supervisor.

Following the boards decision, some citizens and school board member Bill Ferry voiced concerns that the increases were approved the same day the board learned of a $746,000 revenue shortfall for the current year.

Superintendent Paul Prevenas and other board members said the raises for non-union employees approved in January take effect next school year, not this year. Prevenas added that the extra $18,000 saved by not granting the raises would not make a significant impact on the expected budget shortfall next year.

Even so, some citizens and school employees were confused about the boards January approval of raises because it had approved a similar increase for non-union employees in October, three months earlier.

According to district financial records, provided by the districts Business Manager Valerie Shapton, the 2 percent increase approved in October was for the 2001-02 school year and was late in coming because of union contract negotiations.

The increase was retroactive back to July, when administrative staff began preparing for the school year.

Normally, the district prefers to approve any salary increases for administration staff each year prior to July 1.

Any salary increases are based, in part, on the most recent union contract for teachers.

However, in 2001, contract negotiations between the district and union were not completed and approved until September.

The school board approved a 2 percent increase for administration staff the next month.

The union contract approved in September was a three-year agreement that gave union employees a 2 percent increase for the current school year, a 2.5 to 4 percent increase in 2002-03, and a 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent increase in 2003-04.

The actual percentage paid to union employees in upcoming years will be dependent on Oregons consumer price index (CPI), the numeral used to calculate the salaries of union employees.

The school board decided it wanted to follow the unions example and established a multi-year salary increase agreement for non-union employees. Instead of waiting until July, the board voted in January to approve a 2 percent increase for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 school years.

This way, explained Shapton, the increases wont have to be negotiated every year.

It also means that negotiations for the unions next contract and determining administrative salaries will happen around the same time in 2004.

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