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School Board signs off on $500 raise for teachers, staff

Both licensed and classified staff members of the North Little Rock School District will receive a $500 raise in their base salaries after two years of seeing wages frozen.

The proposal was offered at the Jan. 17 school board meeting. The administration proposed the $500 raise to base salary and a one-time $500 bonus.

The raise to the base salaries was a proposal supported by the majority of the school board. The licensed personnel did not favor the plan though, and offered two proposals of their own before the vote.

The first proposal asked the board to grant a 2-percent salary increase across the salary schedule for all licensed employees and to absorb the increased cost of the Silver Insurance plan, which would have been $23.78 per month for those employees enrolled. Licenses employees enrolled in the Gold Plan would receive an equal amount of $23.78 per month to be applied to the Gold Plan Premium. The amount would have applied to the employee only. All full time employees are already enrolled in the Bronze Plan, which is paid for by the school system. The Gold and Silver plan benefits are in addition to those offered by the Bronze Plan.

The second proposal offered by the licensed personnel policy committee asked for a 2 percent increase across the salary schedule for all licensed employees for the 2012-2013 school year, which would be retroactive to the beginning of the school year.

All members of the board voted “no” to the first proposal while voting 4-3 against the second proposal.

Before the vote by the board for the administration’s proposal for the $500 increase, Board Vice President J.T. Zakrzewski proposed an amendment to give the money from the TIF lawsuit settlement to the teachers.

“The settlement money is in addition to the $500 raise and $500 bonus that was the administration’s original offer. We wish we could do more. We felt that, with the additional funds being available, we wanted that money to go to the teachers. It is not nearly as much as we wish we could do, but we wanted to be sure it went to them,” Zakrzewski said.

The amendment proposed by Zakrzewski was passed 6-1, with Darrell Montgomery being the lone “no” vote. Montgomery said he was against setting aside the money before the district had received it.

When it came down to the vote for the administration’s proposal, the school board voted 5-2, with members Dorothy Williams and Montgomery voting no.

“I voted no on the $500 bonus proposal as submitted by the administration because I truly believe that we ought to offer the teachers a 2 percent across the board raise,” Montgomery said. “We are in process of moving towards construction of new or totally renovated buildings with a total price tag of $254 Million dollars and yet fail to offer a decent raise to our teachers.”

Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Kenneth Kirspel announced that the TIF lawsuit between the school district and the city of North Little Rock had been settled and called for an amendment to dismiss the lawsuit. This settlement transfers ad valorem real estate taxes payable to the District attributable to the property in the consolidated district now held by the Clerk and Collector of Pulaski County pending resolution of the case.

In other business:

• Darlene Holmes was recognized with a certificate naming her to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll. The recognition was a surprise for Holmes, because the item had not been placed on the agenda for the evening.

Williams presented Holmes with the award. “She (Holmes) has showed so much passion and love,” Williams said. “She has showed up sick and has never missed a meeting.”

The recognition is the Superintendent’s Honor Roll that allows the Board to recognize the outstanding work of the school district’s staff.

• Choral Director Donna Gosser and Band Director Brandon Wilson were also presented with certificates naming them to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll.

“Since Mrs. Donna Gosser was hired as our choral music teacher at the West Campus, the vocal music program has come alive,” Shara Brazear is the District’s Communications Specialist said. “From the involvement in normal vocal music regional activities, school assemblies and community performances the choir students had many opportunities to show what has happened under this dynamic leader.

“Mr. Brandon Wilson was selected as the High School Band Director during the summer and didn’t have time to rest on his laurels,” Brazear said. “He took on all the ninth- to twelfth grade music classes and has also started working with the other band directors in the district to create a team approach. “

“Developing a good music program is a challenging task,” Brazear said. “Most teachers know that to call it one task is the height of understatement. That is why the music teachers at West Campus were nominated for the Superintendent’s Honor Roll.

• A new zero-period will go into effect this fall. The school day will be a seven-period day with students meeting every class every day. There will be the option of taking some “Zero Period” classes should the students desire the option.

“The additional period, which could also be an 8th period, is for students who want or need the additional class. We will begin scheduling students for next year before spring break and will know more when the process begins as to how many students are interested in an additional class,” Kirspel said.

• The board went into executive session for Kirspel’s final annual evaluation as superintendent. Kirspel received a 1.5 percent raise for the rest of his time as superintendent, which ends with the 2012-2013 school year.

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