The Trenton R-9 Board of Education on Tuesday, May 11, discussed non-certified payroll annualization with district Bookkeeper Mona Loyd and Administrative Assistant Susan Leeper.
Loyd started by saying she had been willing to try annualization at the time the board originally voted to implement it for non-certified staff. She did not have the forethought to know the problems that would come with the number of employees. She said it came down to timesheets, leave, and employees being gone. She thinks the confusion came with employees thinking they would be paid the same amount each month. She noted employees are paid for the hours worked. They are not docked pay.
She said the first year of doing annualizing salaries; adjustments were made at the end of the school year. This second year, adjustments are being made monthly. Loyd and Leeper get calls monthly with concerns.
Superintendent Mike Stegman said the base salary was based on student days this year. If staff members worked extra, they got paid for it. If annualization continues, he thinks Trenton R-9 needs to set a base salary and adjust.
Loyd reported that the district gave pages of days non-certified staff members were supposed to work to them. If someone stayed for a professional development day, they got paid.
Leeper commented that a certain number of work hours have to be completed to get paid the full amount.
Loyd said overtime and time subtracted are shown on pay stubs. Non-certified staff members will get their summer checks in June.
Loyd noted that most of the problems are with paraprofessionals and not with cooks or custodians.
Board Member Melissa King asked how many of the approximately 65 non-certified staff members were paraprofessionals. Loyd said about half.
King said she could see how the concept could be clear for the people who came up with it but that the employees might forget and have questions.
Loyd said she could see how annualization could be confusing, and she wants to communicate clearly.
Board Member Bill Miller interjected that from what he had heard, non-certified staff was not trying to cheat the system. The staff members just did not understand.
Board President Dorothy Taul commented that she could see how employees would want to know how much they would get paid each month.
She wondered if Trenton R-9 went back to the way payroll was done before annualization, would it eliminate problems? Loyd answered that it would.
Loyd would prefer to go back to hourly pay due to the number of employees. She also noted that auditors do not like annualization because it is too easy to have errors.
She said it was not a personal issue, and she would figure payroll; however, she was told to do it.
Board Member Andy Burress commented that it was not up to the board to micromanage. He thought the office should decide how to do it.
Vice President Brandon Gibler mentioned that the board voted for annualizing salaries for non-certified staff a couple of years ago after a lot of snow days. He was thankful for it when it came to the shutdown of schools during the pandemic.
King said that the only comment she had heard after the topic was placed on the agenda was to keep the payroll annualized for non-certified staff.
Burress suggested the board discuss the topic again next month so that the district could talk to an auditor before that.
Taul said she appreciated the information.
Rissler Elementary School Principal Tiffany Otto presented the Title 1 Program evaluation. She noted the iReady Reading Assessment is being used for second through fourth grade. After being asked by Burress, she said Rissler does not have plans to use iReady this summer.
Stegman reported the tornado safe area for Trenton Middle School and Trenton High School changed with the opening of the performing arts center. He noted a test run worked well with students using the routes into the performing arts center.
Stegman reported the district plans to have students back in buildings “at full force” for in-person learning next school year. Trenton R-9 does not plan to have synchronous learning as an alternative.
The district will still be required to allow the Missouri Course Access and Virtual School Program for students who qualify and/or have an interest. Stegman noted the district does not have a choice about that.
He said there might be times staff will provide some synchronous learning determined by the staff as needed and do what is best for students involved.
He congratulated staff members for making it through a tough school year.
Stegman reported that board meetings had been broadcast online during the pandemic for the convenience of those who cannot attend in person. He wanted to know the board’s thoughts on if meetings should continue to be broadcast.
Board Member Marcie Cutsinger asked how many people were online for May 11th’s meeting. Fifteen were attending online at that time. Stegman acknowledged that that was more than usually attend online, and he thought it had to do with the topics on the agenda.
If broadcasting continued, he could work on ways to make it better.
Taul noted there had been comments that it was hard to hear things on the online broadcast. Trenton Republican-Times Editor Ronda Lickteig added that might be why there are not usually many online attendees.
Miller said he did not think the broadcasting should continue if it was expensive. Stegman said he did not think it would cost too much.
Trenton Teachers Association President Charley Crimi wanted to know why the district would not want to make the board meeting available to as many people as possible and continue to broadcast. She thought the swivel camera used at the board member candidate forum did a good job.
Miller thought the number of online attendees should be monitored in the next few months. Gibler said he wanted to see how much it cost.
Stegman reported there are some minor punch list items to complete for Trenton R-9’s building project, but the project is coming to an end. He thanked Dennis Gutshall for his guidance during the process.
The board will hold a retreat in the BTC Bank Conference Room on May 17th from 6 to 9 p.m. Food will be available for board members.
A close-out meeting is tentatively scheduled for June 29th to close the books and adopt the budget for the next academic year. Stegman noted the board would officially set that meeting date next month.
The board recognized three employees who will retire at the end of this school year. Kindergarten Teacher Debra Young has 20 years in the district, E’Lisha Gass with the high school/middle school library/media center has 19 years, and Rissler Counselor Terri Critten has nine years.
The Trenton R-9 Board of Education approved extra duty schedule adjustments on May 11th. The adjustments included adding $250 to Tier 1, $150 to Tier 3, $100 to Tier 5, and $50 to Tier 7. That would make the pay for someone who is in the first or second year of a specific duty $4,250 for Tier 1, $3,250 Tier 2, $2,750 Tier 3, $2,250 Tier 4, $2,000 Tier 5, $1,500 Tier 6, $700 Tier 7, and $400 for Tier 8. There were also some changes made to what employees were included in each tier.
The board adopted an escrow agreement and resolution to transfer funds to an escrow fund for payment of 2010B bonds. UMB Bank is the escrow agent. The agreement relates to $1,630,000 in taxable general obligation qualified school construction bonds.
Trenton R-9 has surplus funds available in its debt service fund, which will be moved into the escrow account. The district will transfer $500,000 from its debt service fund to the escrow account.
The maturity date of the bonds is March 1st, 2027.
Superintendent Mike Stegman noted there would be a yearly resolution regarding the escrow agreement.
The board approved a cooperative agreement with Pleasant View R-6 for fall sports for the next school year. The agreement involves middle school football, volleyball, and softball, which Athletic Director John Cowling noted Pleasant View does not have.
He said Pleasant View reported 11 students showed an interest in those fall sports. It will not affect Trenton’s Missouri State High School Activities Association class.
Trenton R-9 would be the program administrator and will schedule practices and competitions. Home events will be held on the Trenton R-9 campus.
Pleasant View will be responsible for transporting its students to Trenton for practices and competitions.
The districts will maintain their own standards of eligibility as outlined by their respective school handbooks. Students will abide by the Trenton Activities Handbook. The most restrictive policy will be followed if there is a discrepancy between policies.
Cowling said the cooperative agreement would have to be reviewed each year.
A GEC Grant request was approved for Third Grade Teacher Heather Epperson for $905 for reading resource books for the third-grade reading curriculum. Rissler Elementary School Principal Tiffany Otto said Epperson actually already received the grant.
The board entered into a closed session for personnel and legal matters.