Fairfield Board of Directors approves salaries | Regional news
The Fairfield School Board approved administrative salaries, reviewed enrollment numbers, hired additional staff, and determined the best course of action to help Teton County Health Department regarding COVID-19 case notifications during the board meeting on September 20.
The board approved two-year contracts for Superintendent Dustin Gordon and Early Kindergarden-12 director Courtney Bake. The salary packages for the directors came as a supported motion from the bargaining committee.
Board Chairman Chris Christensen explained that the committee used several resources to determine director salaries. They were based on the negotiated set of recently completed Certified and Classified staff and on information Gordon gathered from regional Class B and C schools indicating the salary range for each of their Trustees, Certified and Classified. “This information provided the bargaining committee with an opportunity to see where Fairfield’s salary and benefits stack up against others in the area,” Christensen said.
“Last year’s contracts were somewhat arbitrary,” Christensen said. “We now have data on surrounding districts and our total administrative costs will always be the second lowest among the nine PK-12 districts surveyed,” he added. Individually, contracts for administrators rank roughly in the middle of the pack for these districts.
Taking the overall amount spent on administrators across the region, Fairfield is near the bottom compared to other regional schools after the approval of the two-year contract and is now halfway with their individual contacts.
The bargaining committee chose to pay the two directors at the same daily rate as a certified staff member with a master’s degree plus one, 25-year daily rate. To determine the salary, the committee multiplied this dollar amount by the number of days of each of the directors’ contracts. For Bake it would be 212 days and Gordon it would be 260 days.
This increases Bake’s salary to $ 83,413.52 for 2021-2022 and to $ 84,038.92 for 2022-2023. His salary last year was $ 78,000. They also negotiated in a memorandum of understanding that the district will recognize his years of service as Bake worked for the district for several years, moved for a couple, and has been rehired and has worked here ever since.
Using the same formula, Gordon’s salary increased to $ 102,299 for the 2021-2022 school year and to $ 103,066 for the second year. Gordon’s salary for last year was $ 98,000.
Gordon asked the board to view the salary increase as a bonus allowance similar to that for teachers this year, using the district’s multidistrict agreement and federal ESSER savings in the general fund. (ESSER is the Emergency Relief Fund for Elementary and Secondary Schools established by the federal government.)
It was noted that the district still spends $ 5,697 less on salaries and over $ 13,000 less on benefits than two years ago when the district had three trustees. This dollar amount also includes the allowance paid to Loren Tacke as an administrative assistant for the junior high school.
The council also approved a 3% raise to a salary of $ 55,617 for District Clerk Denise Grant, which was in line with what classified staff had negotiated. All the languages of the previous contract would be the same. They also approved an additional allowance of $ 600, “for additional COVID-related tasks performed this past year with a lot of additional work for ESSER.”
As part of another action, the board agreed to rescind the motion tabled at the August meeting that said the district would not send a notice (by email) regarding the COVID quarantine. -19 for Teton County Health Department to students / parents. The motion stemmed from some board members who were concerned that the district sometimes sent notices provided by the county health department to students / families for contract research, as it was often urgent. Council members believed it was the responsibility of the county department, not the school district.
Based on the information the board received on the matter over the past month from Superintendent Gordon via email, including the board’s legal position regarding the disclosure of information and discussion at the meeting, they agreed that no motion was needed instead to provide direction to administration on how to handle notices in the future.
The administration and board members agreed that the best course of action was for all correspondence from the Teton County Health Department related to the COVID-19 quarantine to come directly from this office. The school district will provide the necessary information such as names, addresses (physical or e-mail) to students that TCHD can contact.
As a result of the discussion, it was noted that the board does not often disagree on an issue such as this motion. They didn’t see this as negative but have said every now and then that there are issues they will need to discuss and that there will be different points of view to consider. They agreed that tabling the motion until more information could be presented was a positive gesture and ultimately facilitated a resolution.
Fall enrollments reported at the meeting show the total number of students is 329, up nine from last year’s enrollment. There are 166 students in kindergarten through sixth grade, 41 in seventh and eighth grades, and 121 in high school. Last year there were 155 in the sixth year of EK, 33 in middle school and 123 in high school. Distance education program students are included in the total. There were nine students enrolled in the program last year and only one this year.
Superintendent Gordon briefed the board on issues related to COVID-19, saying the district has been fortunate to maintain all classes without having to switch to distance learning at this time. However, after the board meeting, the school reported on the district’s Facebook page on September 23 that a kindergarten student or staff member tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and was confirmed by the Teton County Health Department. Due to the exposure and in accordance with the Fairfield School stay plan, they moved the affected class to distance learning on September 24.
Gordon is linked to the board, the administration is not recommending any changes in mask wearing requirements at this time. He noted that none of Fairfield’s sports teams have had to cancel games due to illness, but a few games have been called off due to the other school’s inability to field a team.
Five community members attended the meeting and all indicated that they were very interested in the recommended changes to the masking.
Prior to the meeting, the Policy Committee met and reviewed changes to a long list of policies. Gordon explained that most were either housekeeping changes or changes recommended after the recent legislative session. The policy committee did so by a majority of the list. Even though the policy could be approved in one reading, they agreed to vote for final approval at the October meeting, which would give them more time to review it.
Under the action points, the advice:
• Approval of the list of students participating in the Kindergarten program and student attendance agreements.
• Approved the hiring of Megan Helmer, Kelli Hershey and Christoph Lawton as paraprofessionals and Matthew Berglund as part-time janitor.