School librarian argues for teacher raises

School employees need more money.

That was the message heard Wednesday night by board members at a meeting of the Kingman Unified School District governing board.

The board heard two presentations on salary proposals for next year.

The first was for classified personnel and was made by Barbara Speer from Kingman High School North.

Issues she touched on included a cost of living adjustment, insurance, holidays with pay, days off without pay, a new salary category for library assistants, contract extensions, custodian pay, professional growth, responsibility pay, sick days and substitute pay.

Linda Hill, librarian at Manzanita Elementary School, then spoke for certified personnel with a proposal drafted by a meet-and-confer committee.

Hill began by saying teachers are worth more than they are paid.

"Yes, we are the major personnel cost to the district," Hill said.

"But we are also where the rubber meets the road in education."

She said recently teachers have been made to feel they are asking for more than their fair share of budget money.

But without decently paid and treated teachers in the classroom, no amount of money spent anywhere else will provide a decent education for children in the community.

"This is not to diminish the importance of support personnel in this district," she said.

"Without them it would be difficult to impossible to do our job.

"But without us, there is no job, and we should not have to feel apologetic for expecting our salaries to be a major budget priority of the district."

The committee also encountered some difficulty in getting requested information from the district office to help in drafting its proposal, Hill said.

She said all requested information is readily available to the public through the Freedom of Information Act and the committee should not have to invoke Arizona Public Records Law to get the information.

The presentation by Hill was broken into three parts, beginning with a salary proposal.

She said teachers need raises because they face increasing expenses for utility bills, groceries, childcare, insurance and other costs.

Hill also cited protection for retiring staff, the need to retain good teachers and morale as reasons raises are needed.

The basic proposal is to increase the base salary for a new teacher with a bachelor's degree by $150.

Hill said it was a modest request in light of the budget crisis faced by all districts and would increase the new-teacher salary from its present $26,850 to $27,000.

Hill also spoke of matters still under discussion with Ford and areas of general agreement between the committee and superintendent.

The governing board has not yet begun work on next year's budget but is scheduled to hold a workshop next week.

In other business, Superintendent Mike Ford recommended the hiring of Terry White of Idaho Falls, Idaho, as the district's new executive director of business and finance.

The board approved and White will start work May 1.

"This was the toughest decision I've ever brought before the board because we had three very good candidates I was real comfortable with," Ford said.

"(White) has served as a school district financial officer in Blackfoot, Idaho, and was comptroller for projects at the Idaho Nuclear Engineering Laboratory.

He has the philosophy and background I appreciate as far as the books are open to everyone and if there are any questions he will sit down and explain it to you."

In response to a question from board member Janet Watson, Ford said White's contract would be prorated for the balance of this fiscal year.