Teacher salaries are increased
SIKESTON -- In May, the Sikeston R-6 School District joined other schools as members of the Committee for Educational Equality, which is now proposing to sue the state of Missouri over funding.
At the time of entrance into the effort, Sikeston Schools paid an initial assessment of $200. At Thursday's Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Steve Borgsmiller asked board members to approve an expense of $944, or 25 cents per student, according to Sikeston's average daily attendance, to cover background informational expenses for the lawsuit.
"This is the effort that we're trying to take part in as we did in the late 1980s and early 1990s to promote an equity and adequacy in state funding," Borgsmiller told the board. Last week at a state superintendent's meeting, the administrators voted to pursue the litigation, Borgsmiller said. The CEE has the same attorney, Alex Bartlett, that it used years ago, and he anticipates that once he has all the information he needs -- and it's put together in a timely manner -- the lawsuit can be filed as early as November of this year.
Currently there are 147 active members in CEE, but Borgsmiller said additional groups and schools are expected to join, which will modify the outlay in the litigation. He estimated $5,000 to $6,000 as the total expense for the district.
"That's a drop in the bucket compared to what we could potentially benefit from this in the long run, if indeed it is successful," Borgsmiller said. "This is a great investment for our school and we just have to be involved."
The board approved the expense.
Other fiscal year 2004 budget amendments were made by the board at Thursday's meeting including the approval of a 1 percent salary increase for the entire staff for the 2003-2004 school year.
"As much as I would like to recommend more for the board to consider, prudently I want to maintain our staff for as many years as we can because I think that one of the key things for the achievement that we are striving for our children is that we absolutely have to fight to keep our student-teacher ratio at the absolute best numbers we can," Borgsmiller said.
Board member Bob Depro noted the board is unanimous in the feeling that they want to give the teachers all that they can. This was not a decision made lightly or quickly and it took a lot of time, he added.
"I originally felt like it should be more than one percent, but with the picture that has been painted that the economy will be very bleak for the next two to five years, this was probably all that we can afford to give," Depro said. "I just want the teachers to know that the board spent a lot of time a lot of agonizing and soul searching to try and find more money."
Sharon Shelton spoke on behalf of the teachers, saying from what she's heard, she didn't think the teachers were expecting anything so 1 percent would be appreciated. And they understand, she added.
"We have teachers still on our staff at the time the salaries have been frozen for five years and because of that -- or one of the reasons -- the district is in a sound financial position," said board member Bill Priday, who also commended those teachers.
The board also approved a $5,000 per year for the three-year commitment for the modular unit that previously housed the Missouri Preschool Project. This year the unit will be used as a pilot for a child care program for the staff.
Other business conducted at Thursday's board meeting:
-- The board approved the waiver of the Missouri School Improvement on-site review for the A-Plus program until next school year.
-- A 17.5 cent proposed tax levy was approved by the board for the 2003-2004 school year.
-- Borgsmiller reported the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Department of Public Safety inspected the districts buses in early spring, and 100 percent of the district's 28 buses passed the inspection.
-- Student dropout rate for 2002-2003 school year was 3.79 percent, or 39 drop outs, up from 3.75 percent in previous year.