HCCSC board gives raises to some staff

Some of the countys school corporation staff and administrators are getting raises, but the action taken by the Huntington County Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees comes with a warning.

The two items were added to a revised agenda at the board’s regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 25, as part of a collective consent agenda item. Classified staff will get a 3 to 5 percent raise, some administrators will see a 5 percent raise, while custodians will get a 10 percent increase in their paychecks, after the motion was approved unanimously.

Assistant Superintendent for Business and Classified Staff Scott Bumgardner said the reason the items were added to the agenda at the last minute was so the corporation’s finance department could make the changes before the end of the year.

“With this board approval tonight, you will be ensuring that our classified staff will receive not only their raises but their back pay, along with their stipends for the holidays,” he told board members. He added that some employees who missed receiving raises in the past would see a 5 percent increase. All classified staff personnel will also receive a $500 stipend, after teachers received a stipend as part of a teacher appreciation grant from the state.

“We feel like we really want to show our classified staff that we appreciate then also at this time,” he added.

However, it was the custodial staff that will receive the major bump in their pay. Bumgardner said the salaries of custodians were increased when several positions suddenly became unfillable throughout the district. He said the administration looked at several different area schools to see what they were paying their custodians and head custodians and found the HCCSC pay rate was “severely low,” explaining why people were leaving and not applying for the open positions. Raising custodians’ pay by 10 percent is taking a major step to making the position more attractive and shows what the staff is worth to the district, he said.

“They do a great job,” Bumgardner added. “We have a lot of experience in that staff, and when we have the chance to step up and reward them financially, I feel good about that proposal.”

Board member Matt Melcher agreed, expressing his appreciation at the compensation for custodial staff.

“Our custodians lock the doors when our kids are in there; they are our security,” he said. “They’re important people.”

Two elementary school administrators will also get more money in their pay, bringing their salaries up to the level of their peers, Bumgardner said, with the majority of administrators and department heads receiving a one-time stipend of $1,500.

Board member Kevin Yarger noted that Superintendent Chad Daugherty, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Jay Peters and Bumgardner have opted not to accept the stipends, “as a sign of good will,” he said.

Board member Brian Warpup added a warning to the discussion, saying he wanted the public to be aware that the money to pay for the increases in salaries and stipends “has to come from somewhere.”

“We’re just not conjuring up money out of some suitcase in the back room; we still have to abide by a budget,” he said. “We have X amount of dollars, so we’re aware of that, where we put in column A, we’ve got to take out of column B through Z somewhere. These raises are obviously needed – they’ll fill positions and go to people who obviously deserve it. But there is probably going to be a consequence later down the road that we do have to balance our budget and keep it in sync.”

Board member Reed Christiansen said the trustees have been wise stewards with the budget so far.

“I am complementary and confident that we’ve planned for that and addressed those,” he added. “I appreciate the planning and the work that’s gone into this because I know that we want to take care of the people that we have, and new people coming in, we want them to be attracted to those jobs, and a great place to work within Huntington County.”

On another item, Board President Matt Roth said the board will conduct a public work session on Jan. 18 to redress the referendum issue, and begin the process to come up with new options to address the needs at Huntington North High School. The session will be held at the high school, with representatives of finance, construction and other consultants on hand to add their input as the board moves forward after the referendum questions failed during the election on Nov. 5.

The next HCCSC School Board meeting will be held Monday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. at Salamonie Elementary School, 1063E-900S, Warren. Those unable to attend may view a live-stream video of the meeting online by going to https://livestream.com/HNHS or by visiting the HCCSC website at hccsc.k12.in.us and clicking on the “FEATURED VIDEO” link on the left side of the web page.