Trenton Board of Education tackles huge agenda including approval of salary schedule for next school year

Trenton R-9 School District

The Trenton R-9 Board of Education March 9th approved salary schedules for the 2021-2022 school year.

One thousand dollars will be added to the base for the certified salary schedule, making the base salary $34,000. This was estimated to cost the district $119,591.

Superintendent Mike Stegman noted the base salary for certified staff was “pretty good” in the area and about average in Missouri. Board President Dorothy Taul said she thought the $1,000 added was a good amount. Members of the Salary and Welfare Committee at the meeting said they liked that proposed amount.

Adding $1,000 to the base salary was one of three proposals the committee presented at last month’s board meeting. The other proposals involved adding $1,200 to the base salary and adding $750 to the base salary.

Forty-eight cents will be added to the non-certified salary schedule, making the base hourly rate $11.83 per hour. This was estimated to cost the district $28,355.

The hourly rate for a non-certified substitute will be $11.83 per hour or $88.73 per day. The hourly rate for a certified substitute will be $12 per hour or $90 per day, which is the same as it is this school year.

Trenton Middle School Paraprofessional Crystal Oneal showed the board some information regarding non-certified staff that was shared with Stegman in making the proposal.

She noted that other schools in the area have categories. She said paras interact with students differently than custodians, but that does not mean one position is more important than another.

Board Member Cliff Roeder encouraged the board to consider categories in the future and maybe pull out paras from the others. Taul suggested the matter be put on the agenda for a future board retreat.

Stegman said he believes Trenton R-9 needs to continue to increase pay to be competitive. His proposal gave employees a three to four percent increase. There will be more of an increase with additional degrees and/or other horizontal movement.

Stegman’s proposal also included movement down on the salary schedule for certified and non-certified staff, which was estimated to cost the district $90,000. The estimates on costs include retirement and were based on this school year’s employees returning for the next school year. They do not include movement for further degrees, but Stegman will budget additional funds into each salary code for the movement.

Other items included leaving the schedule design as is and not extending master columns down to 30 years of experience, working with the administration to determine the best times to meet with staff and have team meetings, and leaving the contracted time at Rissler Elementary School as is. He noted the Rissler ending time was adjusted in August, and the correct time should be 7:30 to 3 o’clock.

Also included in Stegman’s salary proposal was the district continuing to pay $602 per month or $7,224 per year for health insurance for full-time employees. He said this was one of the higher stipends for insurance in the area. He believes being a Missouri Educators Trust member for health insurance will stabilize rates going forward.

Trenton R-9 matches the employee retirement contribution for certified staff at 14.5% and for non-certified of six-point eight-six percent. The district also purchases $20,000 life insurance policies for full-time employees at $3.20 per month.

Nine-month employees receive 10 sick days and two personal days each year. Sick days and unused personal days rollover to sick days. Once a nine-month employee reaches 50 sick days, the district doubles the number to 100.

The board approved holding graduation at the C. F. Russell Stadium on May 8th at 7:30 at night. High School Principal Kasey Bailey made the recommendation and said the event could be moved inside if there is inclement weather.

The board approved the renaming of the Trenton High School tennis courts and a small plaque with accompanying stonework being erected at the site. The courts will be renamed the Carl Carpenter and Mike Bosley Tennis Courts. The Facility Naming Committee strongly endorsed that option. Another option was the Carpenter-Bosley Tennis Courts at Trenton High School.

Director of Supportive Services and Board of Education-Appointed Committee Chairperson Kris Ockenfels reported Carpenter and Bosley were former tennis coaches and were instrumental in receiving grants for the courts and their upkeep.

The district will approve the location of the plaque. Community members will provide materials and labor at no cost to the district.

The board of education approved the tuition rate for the 2021-2022 school year. It was set at $6,375 per year for kindergarten through 12th grade. That is the same rate as for the current school year.

Director of Supportive Services Kris Ockenfels gave a building project update. He reported many of the final touches will be made this week on the performing arts center. Theatrical rigging will be put up in the next two weeks. The PAC will have to be inspected, and the final step will be a punch list.

He said plans are starting to be made for the PAC being used. He plans for a soft opening with tours for the community of six people at a time, a play, a concert, and the Prom Grand March.

Superintendent Mike Stegman said the PAC will provide a safe spot to go during tornadoes. Its construction will also allow for students to remain inside all day.

The special education trip to South Dakota has been postponed from this spring to the fall. Stegman said he made the decision based on concerns related to the pandemic, and he hopes the pandemic will have diminished by the fall.

Board Member Corey Leeper asked why the fall would be better than now. Leeper said the fall would be a busy time for the area, and the district is allowing other groups to travel. He noted he was told parents already signed waivers for the trip.

Stegman said he did not know if the situation would be better in the fall, and he did not make the decision lightly.

Board Member David Whitaker said he did not support Stegman’s decision.

Stegman reported the administration is continuing to work on ideas to enhance the academic program funding of students in regard to COVID-19 funding. The district is also working on any facility upgrades and improvements that may help with indoor air quality.

Once the administration establishes a list, Stegman will share it will the board for input on the usage of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief 2 funds available to Trenton R-9, which amount to $1.1 million.

Stegman noted a newer plan from the federal government may have more ESSER funds.

At a Missouri Educators Trust annual conference last week, the health insurance rate was set at a three-point two percent increase for the 2021-2022 school year. The district will stay at MET rates plus 12%, as it was this year.

The district’s rates for the next school year are $557.78 per month for Plan 12, $667.72 for the PPO Plan 8, and $772.17 for PPO Plan 3. Stegman noted the district’s contribution of $602 for full-time employees will still cover Plan 12. An employee who chooses the PPO Plan 8 will have to pay $65.62 per month, and an employee who chooses the PPO Plan 3 will have to pay $170.17 per month.

Stegman said the goal is to get blended into the normal MET rate schedule, but that cannot happen after only one year.

The district’s usage after six months if about 90% usage to premium. He said below 100% is where a district wants to be in the MET program.

Health insurance plan selection is to be on the agenda for next month’s board meeting.

Stegman reported Prom is being designed as a mask-free event in the gym for students. Distancing provisions and protocols are being planned to not mix guests, who will be asked to wear masks, which he said is like athletic contests.

Board President Dorothy Taul reminded that there will be an election on April 6th to fill two board positions. Seven candidates are running: Emily Lasley, Melissa King, Bill Miller, Michael Voorhies, Joshua Shuler, Jeffrey Spencer, and Shuan McCullough. The elected candidates will be administered the oath of office at the regular meeting on April 13th.

A candidate forum has been scheduled in the Trenton High School Commons on March 18th at 5:30 in the evening.

Numerous personnel actions were taken last night following an executive session of the Trenton R-9 Board of Education. This included retirements, resignations, tenure status, new hires, coaches, and extra duty sponsorships.

The board accepted the retirements of Elementary school counselor Terri Critten and from elementary grade teacher Debra Young.

Resignations accepted include those from Rachel Lorenz as elementary music teacher and Samantha Baldwin – a teacher at the elementary school. The school district office reports the non-renewal of an elementary teachers’ contract: Rebekah Maberry.

Resigning as a para-professional was Amanda Spears. Also, Julia Keuler resigned as the science club sponsor.

Several probationary teachers at Trenton were granted tenure status. They are listed by the district as Lendy Donoho, Kim Foster, Julia Keuler, Paige Orndorff, Amos Dickson, Kelsey Donohue, Vanessa Pauley, and Carolyn Schmidt.

All probationary teachers presented, were offered a contract for next year.

New hires by the R-9 board include the instrumental music instructor for the middle school and high school: Anthony Webb. Bradley Ewald was hired to teach high school physical science. Kayla Hyer was employed as a special education teacher.  Hired as para-professionals were Kelsie Lowe and Brandi Penniston.

Assignments were made for coaches and extra duty sponsors at TMS and THS.