R-7 Board inclined to raise all employees’ salaries by 7.1%

2022-23 budget to be finalized June 28

Superintendent Tony Rossetti is proposing an “aggressive” 7.1% salary increase for all employees of the district, and the School Board appears to be in agreement.

At their regular monthly meeting Tuesday, board members approved a preliminary 2022-2023 budget to submit to the state. It will meet again on Tuesday, June 28, in special session to finalize the budget.

Rossetti summarized $2.3 million in new revenue, including estimates of: $1.2 million in Proposition C sales tax receipts, $200,000 in property tax, $500,000 for transportation (now that the Legislature has approved full funding), and $300,000 for normal enrollment growth.

At the same time, he said he sees no significant increases in expenses.

And he said, “We’ll have some of the highest reserve balances that we’ve ever had.

“This sets us up” to be afford the 7.1% increase for staff. “That’s aggressive,” he said, noting that last year the increase was 4%. It would be the largest salary increase since the 6% raise in 2005-2005.

“If there was ever to be a time we’re going to do this…” it’s now, he said. “If we can do this, that would by my recommendation.”

Another reason he cited is that “the past two years have been difficult.”

And board member William Roderique added, “We know the cost of living is going up.”

Rossetti is proposing the base teacher salary be raised from $41,500 to $44,000, which will ripple up the salary schedule to reward teachers with experience.

Hourly staff will receive a minimum of $14 per hour, and those with experience will see their hourly pay increase proportionally.

Rossetti noted with pride that his recommendation would maintain the district’s reputation for high pay. “We are No. 1 in teacher pay all the way up to Kansas City and almost all the way to St. Louis.”

The district will not be participating in the state’s resumption of the Career Ladder program. Instead, Rossetti said he proposes using the local money (that would be needed to match the state funding) to provide the best salary possible for all staff members.

The Webb City Community Teachers Association’s salary and welfare committee agreed with not implementing career ladder, at least for this year, according to Rossetti.

Building security updates

In the wake of the recent Texas school shootings, Adam Bell, director of technology, updated the board on new security systems that are being implemented throughout the district.

Board members were especially interested in a system that will detect when an exterior door is not secure. Bell confirmed that all classrooms have locking doors.

The security of front entry areas is also being increased. This summer, a second set of doors is being added at the junior high to provide an indoor entry space.

There is an early notification system with various threat levels that can be activated from offices or by staff with mobile phones.

Simple intercom systems are being replaced with devices that can broadcast warnings throughout the school.

The drawing above shows how the new practice field will be located next to the right-field fence of the softball field. At right is how two shortened football fields will be laid out in the space of one soccer field.

Bond issue projects

The board agreed to plans for the new turf field that will provide extra practice space for high school activities and a physical education area for the middle school students.

The project, 92,000 square feet overall (a football field is 64,700 square feet), will be marked off with two shortened football fields within one soccer field. It will be located fairly close to the softball field’s right field.

The $838,860 bid from Midwest Synthetic Turf Professionals, was accepted. It includes an alternate bid of $94,860 to install a shock-absorbing pad under the turf. The football field at Cardinal Stadium has a similar pad.

Crossland Construction, the district’s project manager, provided estimates of the high school additions for the board to review.

The grand total is $8,989,899, including the estimates for three alternates and renovation of Cardinal Theatre. The base is $6,377,185. And the Cardinal Theatre estimate is $1,110,233.

The district is financing the projects with proceeds from an $11 million bond sale that was completed June 1 after being approved by voters in April.

Summer projects

Major renovation of the former American Legion building at 1000 N. Main Street to house the district’s special services is being financed with existing capital improvement funds.

Kevin Cooper, assistant superintendent for business operations, reported that interior demolition is complete and wall studs are now being installed.

The board voted to spend $147,000 to coat the exterior so that it will look like a new building. The project is expected to be finished by Aug. 5.

Also approved was the purchase of technology for a large media room in that facility, at a cost of $116,223 from Kansas City Audio-Visual Inc. 

Cooper said the media room will be equipped for virtual attendees, which will make it a good site for board meetings, professional development and virtual learning.

The board also approved a bid of $79,726 from Essential Network Technologies to replace the WiFi system in the high school.

More houses purchased

Cooper received board approval to purchase four more lots west of the high school. They are all across Madison Street north of Aylor Street.

Clarence Winans is selling the lots at 1015 Aylor St., 709 N. Prospect St., and 702 N. Madison St. for a total of $205,000.

Anna Ovitt is selling her house at 720 N. Madison St. for $100,000.

Houses previously purchased along Madison Street are in the process of being demolished.

In other action, the board:

• Approved the purchase of 15 marching trumpets and other instruments for the band program, at a cost of $25,781. Also, band director Butch Owens received permission to purchase four media towers to make the band more competitive. They will be on the field during performances and can be spun to present four different digital prints on each tower. He said this year’s theme will be the four seasons. The prints can be changed for other themes.

• Praised high school athletes who performed at the state track and field meet.

• Congratulated four students who competed in Columbia at the state Special Olympics meet.

• Agreed to purchase three new school buses dedicated to early childhood education, which will replace three in use now. The district will be reimbursed for the complete cost of $108,000.

• Accepted the resignation of Caleb Wheeler, a junior high math teacher.

• Approved contracts for:

– Tanner McNutt, high school special education.

– Crystal Thomas, junior high special education.
– Brayden Wilson, junior high in-school suspension.

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