Beatrice School Board approves contracts, honors retiring staff

BEATRICE – Beatrice Public Schools will keep its pay-to-ride bus rate this coming year at the same level in past years.
The Board of Education kept the fee for this coming school year at $130. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jackie Nielsen says the rate is comparatively low among districts that offer such a program. It allows in-town students to ride the bus.

"State statute says that the only people that we need to offer it to are our students who live outside of Beatrice...outside of the city...who are outside four miles." It also includes special needs students.

Monday night, the Beatrice School Board approved classified staff wages for the coming school year, increasing hourly pay by 19-cents. Superintendent Jason Alexander says the 3.2% increase will keep the district competitive with other occupations.  "If federal legislation is approved to increase the minimum wage to fifteen dollars per hour, this will put us closer to that but we'll still have work to do in order to meet that."

The board also granted administrative personnel a 2.75% increase in pay for the coming year…after the adjustment had averaged just under 2.5% the past five years. "Which results in a lower ranking in terms of where the district is on administrative pay. The recommendation of 2.75% brings that administrative package up to more comparable average in the comparison with the other area schools."

The change passed on a 5-0 vote with one member absent. Board member Eric Book abstained from the vote on administrative pay.
"A lot of teachers...a lot of people in the public come to me and ask why are they getting such a big raise, why are they getting paid so much when we have paras and teachers making what they make...and it's a common thing. That's one of the things I ran on, one of the things I said I'd try to do....fiscal responsibility. I'm not going to vote yes, I'm not going to vote no....I'm going to abstain tonight. I just don't want the administrators to think I'm trying to ....not say they're not doing a great job, but that's just how I feel, tonight."

Other board members said administrative pay changes have lagged behind teacher pay increases and are under the midpoint of administrative positions at comparable school districts.

The board also approved contracted staff pay that grants a 3% pay increase. It covers staff in supervisory roles. "The average over the past five years on the salary-only portion of this is 2.6%...we feel the need to in order to remain competitive and in comparison with the other increase this to 3% for other contracted individuals for the coming year."

The Beatrice School board also renewed agreements with Educational Service Unit Number five, for technology coordination support and for an alternative education program.

Meanwhile, the Beatrice School District will be losing a significant amount of experience to retirements in its teaching, administrative and staff positions as the school year comes to a close. Superintendent Alexander says it amounts to 436 total years of knowledge and service in the district.