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Secretary’s salary back in spotlight

The Clinton School District’s incoming superintendent created a stir at Monday evening’s regular meeting when he said there were legal issues with a salary schedule approved at the April meeting.

Scott Jones, current superintendent at the August School District who takes over at Clinton in July, told the board Monday night that an employee’s salary cannot be decreased from the year before unless the contract is not renewed.

At issue is the $42,000 salary of the district secretary, a contract that the Classified Personnel Policy Committee says was not legal. The PPC and a committee that included the school principals have spent many hours since last summer working on a salary schedule they felt was more equitable. The School Board approved that schedule last month.

Classified PPC Chair Cheryl Smith reminded the board that it had agreed to address the secretary’s salary for the 2013-14 school year.

“This whole thing was done because (the district) did something illegal and we were told it was going to be fixed, and this does not fix it,” Smith said. “It just doesn’t seem like we got it resolved. … Continuing to pay that salary doesn’t fix that problem.”

Board member Darla McJunkins said the re-hiring was done last month; she asked if it could be changed. Jones said it could not. Classified personnel have until June 30 to accept their contracts.

“This is the screwiest thing I’ve ever been involved in,” said board member Dr. Keith Coward.

Board member Richard McCormac wanted to know “what’s wrong with doing what Jones wants?”

“Because it puts us in the same damn position we’ve been in all year,” board member David Warren responded.

Jones said his only recommendation was that “you can’t lower someone’s salary.”

“But that was supposed to be fixed,” Smith said.

Coward said he recommended that the one contract be non-renewed. The discussion continued and the board ended up unanimously approving Jones’ proposal and sending it to the PPC for its approval or rejection. The committee will give its recommendation at the June board meeting.

Earlier at the meeting, the board heard updates on the kindergarten-sixth grade building. The board was told that a booster pump will have to be added to the second story of the building because of low water pressure. The architects said the city of Clinton has refused to reopen the line that previously served the chicken plant because the pressure would cause lines to break, so the adjustment had to be made. Money from the contingency fund will be used for the booster pump, the board was told.

The board unanimously approved taking a $305,000 loan at an interest rate of 1.94 percent from Simmons bank. Part of the money will be used to purchase furniture and equipment to complete the Junior High project. The money will not cover the contents of the new K-6 building. The district will repay the loan at $16,878 every six months for 10 years.

The board also unanimously accepted a proposal from Licensed PPC Chair Burtie Harder to pay teachers’ cost for re-licensing, which costs $75. The teacher must stay for two years afterward or pay back the money, Harder said. Jones said he would recommend the proposal.

Harder read a letter from the Licensed PPC thanking the School Board for its time and effort and especially for placing the committees on the monthly agenda.

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