GCMS school board approves teachers' contract

By ROSS BROWN
bluehavanaross@gmail.com


GIBSON CITY — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley school board members on Monday night approved a four-year negotiated contract with the GCMS Education Association, the district’s teachers’ union.

The contract will be in effect from 2018 through 2022 for all certified staff. The first year includes an average salary increase of 3.23 percent, followed by a 2.9 percent increase in 2019, 3.04 percent increase in 2020 and 3.11 percent increase in 2021.

A $15 increase in individual health premiums will be paid Jan. 1 each year. Internal substitute pay is $18.50 per hour for kindergarten through fifth grade and $21.50 per hour for grades six through 12. The board will also reimburse $1,500 per year for advanced education, up from $1,200 in the previous contract.

Extra-duty pay is increased from $25 per night to $30 per night, and a 1 percent increase in extracurricular stipends will be granted at year 16 of longevity.

Elementary school projects discussed
Board members also discussed heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) projects at GCMS Elementary School this coming summer.

Darnell said he wants to install two new HVAC units over the kindergarten and preschool wings at the north end of the building for a total cost of $478,000. Darnell said the existing unit is about 15 years old and is at the end of its useful life, and is also connected to a steam unit.

The new unit and central air would eliminate the use for steam, which Darnell said he would like to see happen to the entire building sometime in the future.

“It’s a needed improvement that we want to do for the entire building eventually, but for now we’re just looking at this one phase,” Darnell said. “This will eliminate window units, which will help us tremendously, and also with sound and quality of environment in the kindergarten classrooms.”

Included in the HVAC project is the replacement of the building’s aging electric main.

“It’s very, very old,” Darnell said. “Both an architect who did our health/life safety visit and also the the performance contractor both said that if it turns off on its own, there’s a good possibility that it won’t turn back on. The fortunate thing is that it hasn’t turned off in years, so the chances of that happening are slim to none, so we’re not in danger of losing power unless there is a catastrophic event.”

Darnell said he would like to see air conditioning installed in the GCMS Elementary School gym. The gym, built in 1912, is the only district space that does not currently have air conditioning.

Darnell estimated the gym project would cost $125,000. Darnell said doing all three projects at once would save money.

“In order to have a rooftop unit installed you have to have a crane here,” Darnell said. “To rent a crane for a day is about $2,000. Just by having the crane there to do all three jobs will save us that much money. If we do not do the air conditioning at this time, then it’s about a 15 percent increase in standalone costs if we do it later.”

Board member Adam Elder questioned the need for air conditioning in the gym, saying it is not used as much as in the past and that the new system would only need to be used during a small part of the school year. The gym formerly served as the high school gymnasium until 1955 and as the middle school gym until 1985.

“My biggest concern is that it seems like that space is not well used as it has been in the past, and so to put $125,000 into something that isn’t used very much wouldn’t be good,” Elder said. “We’re going to be putting in money to something and using it less; I think that money could be used on something else.”

However, GCMS Elementary School Principal Justin Kean said the space is used for several different activities.

“We’ve moved all of our indoor recesses in there, so we have all of the kids in there at one time,” Kean said. “When I first started, all of the recesses were in the classrooms. We have assemblies every month and after-school events. The fifth-grade end-of-the-year awards ceremony is held there in May. We have definitely moved some things into the cafeteria that we would want in the gym if it wasn’t warm.”

Darnell said the district has funding available for both projects.

“The way that this would be paid is through our existing capital projects money and operations money,” Darnell said. “There would not need to be any borrowing, and the amount of money to be spent would be spread over this year’s existing funds and additional money to capital projects next year. We have over $1.7 million in that fund, so we have the money to cover the full scope.”

Other business
Also at the meeting:

➜ Darnell said GCMS was not awarded any grant money for its new preschool program. The new preschool was established last summer after the private Busy Hands Preschool closed after more than 40 years in operation. Darnell said the district did receive grant money for supplies, and that he plans to submit a grant application for the next school year. Thirty-seven students are enrolled in the program.

➜ Darnell presented a tentative 2018-19 school calendar. Darnell said the first day of school is around the same time as it was this year, and the calendar includes a four-day Easter break as part of spring break. One notable change is that GCMS High School graduation is being moved up by one week, which Darnell said would allow for staff and community members to be able to utilize the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend without any graduation commitments.

➜ The board approved the 2017-18 certified teacher seniority list as presented.

➜ The board accepted December 2018 graduation requests for Kaileigh Koonce, Allison Roberts and Hannah Vaughn.

➜ The board approved Michael Wilson’s hiring as a volunteer GCMS Middle School track coach for the upcoming season.
 

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