School board gives raises for fourth year in a row

Published 7:03 pm Thursday, May 23, 2024

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Lincoln County Public School employees received raises for the fourth year in a row after the Board of Education approved next year’s salary schedule during last Thursday’s meeting. 

Director of Finance Lee Ann Smith said bringing wages in line with surrounding areas to attract and retain the best staff possible has been a major goal for the school district. 

For the last four years, the school district has approved raises for both certified and classified staff. Since 2019, custodian pay has increased by 27 percent; cook pay by 32 percent; bus driver pay by 24 percent; maintenance pay by 20 percent; bookkeeper pay by 21 percent; and instructional assistant pay by 21 percent. 

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During the May 16 meeting, the school board approved a seven-percent raise for certified staff ranks I, II, and III; a four-percent raise for certified staff rank IV; and a two-percent raise for certified staff rank V. 

The board also approved a minimum of a $1 per-hour raise for classified, increased stipends for athletic coaches and created a 30 year category for both certified and classified staff to reward long-term employees. 

During the board’s working meeting, Smith said there is no better way to invest in the districts’ students and future than by attracting and retaining the best staff possible. 

“There’s also no better way to show our staff that we appreciate all they are doing than by paying them fair, comparable and competitive wages,” she said. 

The cost of the classified staff raises is about $435,000 and the raises for certified staff is about $1 million, including benefits. Smith said the district is in good financial shape to afford the raises thanks to how it managed ESSER funds, an expected increase in SEEK money over the next few years, and an 18-percent contingency fund. 

Superintendent Bruce Smith reiterated that the raises will not affect the contingency fund. 

“We’ll be continuing to look at this each and every year,” Smith said. “We’re also going to be bringing some other types of incentives. We’re already doing a lot of things with our stipends we give and attendance incentives and so we’re going to be bringing some other things to you probably next month.” 

Smith recommended approving the raises. 

Board member Gloria Sneed said she received a call from a member of the public that said the cost of living was cheaper in Lincoln County than other areas. 

“I don’t know where the cost of living is cheaper at in Lincoln County but we’re losing good people to adjoining counties because we don’t pay them,” she said. “If you live in Hustonville, it’s not that far to Danville. If you live in Waynesburg where I’m at, it’s not that far to Science Hill schools. I don’t care what the cost of living is in Lincoln County, we’ve got to recruit good educators…” 

Sneed said just because people choose to live in Lincoln County doesn’t mean we have to pay them like second-rate citizens. 

“I really really appreciate the work that you all put into this and I appreciate our employees enough that I want them to be able to make a living in their hometown,” Sneed said.

The board unanimously approved the 2024-25 salary schedule, which will go into effect July 1. 

In a statement following the meeting, Smith said the raises are a huge step forward for the district. 

“This not only rewards our dedicated staff for their hard work, but it also allows us to hopefully attract the best candidates for our vacant positions. I am thankful our board realizes that recruiting and retaining great staff members is a major key to a successful school district,” he said.