The Bethel-Tate Board of Education met Wednesday, April 22 and approved Superintendent Jim Smith’s recommendation to freeze administrative and exempt employees’ salaries for the 2009-2010 school year.
“We are willing to do whatever we have to do at this time,” said Smith.
Board president Ed Dyer echoed Smith’s sentiment.
“The teachers have agreed to a wage freeze and we commend them for this. We all understand how tough times are, and we all have the same bills as everyone else,” said Dyer. “We have to make some sacrifices to take care of our schools.”
The pay freeze results in a savings to the district of $200,000, which equates to saving three teacher positions. The elimination of five positions was also approved by the board in accordance with planned cuts.
The board also accepted a one-year labor contract with the Bethel-Tate Teachers Association.
In addition to a pay freeze for employees, the board also approved a continued freeze of superintendent and treasures salaries for 2009-2010. According to board members, Jim Smith and Amy Wells have not received a pay increases in three years.
Matt Wagner, principal of Bick Primary School, reported on the traffic congestion at the primary school. The change in school hours has resulted in buses leaving the primary school at 4:15 p.m.
"After the first few days, things are going much, much better," said Wagner. "The buses are leaving through different exits now."
Board president Ed Dyer questioned why so many parents are now picking up their children.
Wagner reported that more parents were picking up their children because many of them were involved in evening activities and wanted to get the children home to feed them before the evening events. With the later bus schedule, many of the children are not getting home until 5 p.m.
"The time change is challenging, the afternoon is long for the kids," said Wagner. "After 3:30 p.m. it is hard to keep their attention. The teachers are putting less demanding activities at the end of the day. We are making the best use of our time and we are making it work."
"I personally don't like the new schedule," said Dyer. "The board had to do it, but we're not proud of our decision."
In other business:
The board approved a list of 139 prospective high school graduate candidates for 2009.
The board approved the Jump Start 2009 Summer School Program and the Summer Accelerated Reader Program.
Wagner also updated the board on the Ready School Program that was implemented to help kindergarten students make the transition into the primary school environment.
"We have 106 kindergarten students already signed up for next year," said Wagner. "Usually we have 100 signed up by the end of June. We told those who registered early that they would know who their teacher would be by the end of May."
An update on the kindergarten reading program was also reported to the board by Wagner. The program is in its second year and promotes early reading beginning in the third trimester of kindergarten. Students read a book from the classroom to a teacher, parent or volunteer and receive points for successful "reads."