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GIBSON CITY — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school board members last Wednesday approved a three-year contract with certified staff that gives teachers an average raise of 2.75 percent each year.
Terms of the contract will be retroactive to July 1, the start of the school district’s 2012-13 fiscal year. Teachers had been working since that time without a new contract, although collective bargaining began in the spring. The contract will remain in effect until June 30, 2015.
District Superintendent Anthony Galindo said the terms that won agreement from both sides resulted from a negotiation session facilitated by a state mediator in late October.
The increases to the teacher salary schedule are 2.67 percent for the current year, 2.7 percent in the second year and 2.8 percent in the third and final year of the contract. Other salary terms include one-time payments to each teacher of $275 in the first year, $300 in the second year and $400 in the third year.
In addition, teachers participating in the district’s health plan will receive $28 more per month toward premium costs.
Galindo said the estimated additional cost of the package to the district is $94,000 for the current school year, $103,000 for 2013-14 and $111,000 in 2014-15.
Board member Steve Swearingen cast the only “no” vote, saying he felt the term was too long, when considering the likelihood that a larger share of local money will be required to fund teacher pensions in the near future.
In other financial business, board members approved a tentative levy for taxes to be paid in 2013. The proposed levy of $5.7 million is an increase of $368,717 over the amount levied in December 2011 — $5.34 million — that taxpayers paid this year.
This makes the levy’s aggregate increase 6.90 percent, which requires a public hearing before board members can officially approve the levy at their next meeting.
The public hearing was set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, at the unit office, preceding the board meeting that night.
At the amount of taxes requested, Galindo’s projections show the tax rate per $100 of equalized assessed valuation should actually be lower ($4.9278) than taxpayers paid in 2012 ($4.9428), however, due to a nearly $8 million increase in the district’s assessed valuation.
Current projections show the projected EAV to be $115.97 million, up from $108.16 million.
Referring to the tax rate, Galindo said, “We’re trying to keep it level because this is not the time to be raising taxes.”
However, Galindo told board members he was recommending continuing to levy the maximum tax rate in most funds due to declining state revenue. Besides continued forecasts of declining state aid, he said there is a “99 percent” likelihood there will be a future cost shift from state to local payments in the teacher pension system.
“We need to gather and hold on to as much revenue as possible,” Galindo said.
At the same time, he said, the district is doing what it can to keep costs low.
“Everyone has made sacrifices,” Galindo said.
Board members also:
— Approved an annual 2.67 percent increase in wages for all members of the non-certified staff. Swearingen voted “present,” saying he did so because his wife is employed in this group. The raise does not cover members of the GCMS Para-Professional Association, which Galindo said will conduct its own contract negotiation.
— Approved moving Beth Tabor to a salaried position paying $31,241 for 12 months. Tabor is the accounts payable clerk for the unit office.
— Employed Erica Kostaff as coach of the girls’ junior varsity basketball team, Elliott McClure as the junior varsity wrestling coach and Kyle Salyards as the freshman boys’ basketball coach.
— Approved maternity leave for Erin Nuss, a high school English teacher. Nuss’ due date is expected to be March 3, 2013, and her return date would be April 29, 2013.
— Accepted the resignation of Karen Wright as a crossing guard, effective Oct. 26.
— Approved volunteer coaches for school sports: Mac Seneca (high school wrestling) and Dean Brucker and Kyle Aubry (sixth-grade basketball).
— Approved volunteer coaches for the youth basketball league: Tom Barnes, Tim Bauer, Michael Breeden, J.B. Daughenbaugh, Mike Elliott, Lonnie Engel, Mark Golden, Andy Killian, Eric Meece, Brandon Roderick, Nick Roesch, Bryan Rollins, Kipp Rutledge, Joe Weir, Lyn Zumwalt, Ron Cail, Aaron Defries, Kenneth Lee, Chris Giroux, Ken Hendricks, Ryan Minion and Jason Main.
Library grant filed
Lynne Titus, librarian at the elementary school, presented her filing for the annual state library grant. She said that the district has been receiving money under the program and after 21 years, a total of $15,395 has been received. The per-student grant “adds up and makes a difference” Titus said.
Project Ignition recap
Four student leaders presented an overview of Project Ignition’s safe-driving messages to students. In addition to a variety of local activities and methods of presenting the safe-driving messages, the team has been presenting ideas to other area schools in the Heart of Illinois Conference.
The team earned the right to send two representatives to an upcoming summit in Washington, D.C., and thanks to a donation from State Farm in Bloomington, can send representatives to the National Service Learning Conference in March.
The students and their sponsor, Judy Weber-Jones, thanked board members for their support, saying that has helped to keep the program going since 2005.
District wellness plan
Board members fulfilled a requirement to perform an annual review of the district’s wellness plan.
“We are taking this seriously,” Galindo said of the work.
Galindo said this year’s plan included increases in physical activity, better choices in vending machine offerings, more nutrition information, and encouraging alternatives to candy as a classroom reward.
Board members Josh Johnson and Tyler Young volunteered to be the board’s representative to the group. Galindo said he was pleased to have two volunteers and will make a choice by the next board meeting.
As part of the review, board members approved reducing the elementary cafeteria choice to one entrée daily. This aligns with the state’s recommendation and can earn the district an additional 6 cents on each meal served. The move is expected to result in less cost, less waste, and more variety in menu choices.
The board accepted donations for:
— Project Ignition, from State Farm ($2,500) and Prevention First ($500).
— The middle school wrestling program, from Sue and Gene Everett ($250), Murray Enterprises ($500), the GCMS Falcon Wrestling Club ($250), Joshua and Geraldine Carter ($250) and Gibson City Rotary Club ($250).
— Other activities, from the Gibson City Rotary Club ($100 for high school chorus); anonymous ($1,000 for the high school activity fund); and anonymous ($2,000 for the high school boys’ basketball program).