R-7 Board finalizes 2022-23 budget with 7% salary increases

Increasing food costs blamed for 45¢ higher lunch prices

The Webb City R-7 School Board in special session Tuesday finalized the district’s 2022-2023 budget, including an approximate 7% raise for all employees.

Starting pay for teachers will increase by $2,500 from $41,500 to $44,000. Teachers advancing on the salary scale with experience and advanced degrees are to receive 7% or better increases.

Minimum wage for hourly workers will be $14. Pay for existing employees making less than that now will be adjusted so they are making more than entry-level employees.

Superintendent Tony Rossetti estimates the cost of the raises will be $2,400,000.

However, he cites increases in major sources of revenue that will cover the higher wages. Those increases include $500,000 from the state for transportation funding and $1,200,000 in sales tax receipts allocated by the state.

According to the budget, the general fund balance on June 30, 2023, will be $916,255 more than it is now, going from $9,516,514 to $10,416,255.

Before the current year ends on June 30, the board approved the transfer of $2 million (the maximum allowed) from the general fund to the capital improvements fund for a balance of $12,421,909.

Of that capital fund balance, $11 million is from the proceeds of a voter-approved bond sale to primarily pay for an expansion of the high school.

At the end of 2023, that large balance will dwindle to $888,463 as project expenses are paid, according to the budget. 

However the ending balance will likely be better in the end because the budget does not include the next allocation from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

End of free lunches – prices increase 45¢

As the pandemic has worn down, so has the federal program that has provided free lunches for the past two years.

Income guidelines haven’t been released yet, but Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent for business operations, said more families are expected to qualify for free lunches. Moreover, the discounted plan is being eliminated so all students from qualifying families will receive free meals.

Inflation on food prices is affecting the school district and causing a higher than normal increase in lunch prices.

Cooper reported the district’s food costs rose last year by $500,000 over the previous year. 

Rossetti said it was the largest increase ever and he hopes it will level off in the coming year. 

“We cannot continue 5- and 10-cent raises,” said Cooper.

The board followed his recommendation to increase lunch prices by 45 cents:

K-6 – from $2.65 to $3.10

7–12 – from $2.85 to $3.30

“I really think this is necessary at this point,” Cooper said. He noted that the district’s new lunch prices are in accordance with the state’s recommendation.

Once the free lunch guidelines are announced, families will be able to see if they qualify on the district’s website.

District to sell five vacant lots

The board voted to designate five vacant lots it owns on North Main Street as surplus, with the intent to sell them.

Cooper asked for the surplus designation because he had received an offer to buy them and the district has no plans to use them.

The lots, a block long on the east side of Main Street from Aylor Street to Cook Street, are across from the new veterans building and Webster Primary Center’s north playground.

The lots are to be sold by sealed bid, with the district retaining the right to refuse any or all bids.

There was one more agenda item. Assistant baseball coach Andrew Doennig was selected to become head coach, succeeding Flave Darnell, who is becoming an assistant principal.

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