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 CAB Hands Out Major Raise

December 31, 2008 - In early 2007, the Charles A. Beard School Board increased Janet White’s yearly salary from $31,212 to $43,697, with the transportation director’s newly assigned responsibility for supervision over CAB’s grounds cited as the primary justification for her 40-percent raise.

When a sharply divided school board voted two weeks ago, however, to shift the grounds duties to CAB Maintenance Director Mike McKillip, White’s pay, which had since grown to $44,571, took no cut to account for this reduction in her responsibilities. Furthermore, the additional grounds duties brought McKillip a much lower pay increase than White had received nearly two years earlier.

In November, a month after approving a new contract that gave CAB’s teachers cumulative raises of just over seven percent, the school board unanimously approved comparable raises for nearly all other employees. Unable to reach a consensus on proposed pay increases for White and McKillip, however, the board agreed to table further consideration of raises for those two positions until its December meeting.

The extra month leading up to the board’s Dec. 16 meeting apparently was not enough time to bring board members into agreement as to how to handle White’s position and pay. It was by the narrowest of margins, a 4-3 vote, that the board decided to keep her salary the same despite the fact she would no longer oversee CAB’s grounds, the added responsibility that had prompted her substantial salary increase nearly two years earlier.

Before the vote was taken, board members Mark Fort and Kevin Knott, the board’s president, both went on the record as saying they were opposed to keeping White’s pay at its current level, which had been Superintendent Gary Storie’s recommendation.

“I don’t believe it is a full-time position,” Fort said of White’s transportation director job. “We’re cutting half the duties.” He reminded board members that White’s 40-percent raise in 2007, which was prior to his election to the board, had been given, primarily, to compensate her for the additional grounds duties added to her job.

Fort also said that prior to White and her predecessor, CAB’s transportation director duties had been handled by a CAB administrator for less than $3,000 a year. He also noted that White’s job had been further simplified by last year’s $5,745 purchase of a software designed to make bus route creation and monitoring easier.

Knott, who voted in favor of White’s 40-percent pay boost in 2007, said he had taken into account the extra duties White was being given when he supported that pay increase. In light of the current economic climate, however, he said he didn’t think it was a prudent use of taxpayer money to keep her salary at the same level when her job responsibilities are now being reduced.

While he said he agreed with Fort’s claim about the transportation director’s job not being a full-time position, Steve Dalton, the board’s vice president, noted that White also spends part of her time working as a secretary for CAB’s athletic director. He also said that giving White’s grounds duties to McKillip would result in a net savings for CAB, even if White’s pay is kept the same and McKillip received a higher raise than other employees.

“What we’ve done here is we’ve taken that seven-percent raise away from our transportation director and given it to the maintenance director,” Dalton said. “So the balance of these two is the same. ... If we hadn’t touched anything, and these two people had both gotten seven-percent raises, as virtually everybody else in this district did, we’d be spending more money, not less on this.”

When it came time to vote, board members Wade Beatty, Leah Kopp and Tom Schaetzle joined Dalton in voting to keep White at her current salary, with responsibility for grounds being given to McKillip. Besides Fort and Knott, the third board member voting against this was Tim Wehr.

The vote on McKillip’s pay increase, which took his yearly salary from $44,571 to $50,365, proved much less divisive. Knott was the only board member to vote against this raise.

“I find it hard to justify over a 10-percent increase in pay for the position of maintenance director at this time considering the financial situation that our country faces,” Knott said.

“It’s not really a 10-percent raise,” Dalton said of McKillip’s increase, apparently not realizing the proposed raise actually amounted a 13 percent hike. “It’s three percent over and above what Mike was already going to get here.”

“I believe that we can’t afford the extra three percent at this point time,” Knott said, also seemingly confused about the percentage of McKillip’s raise.

“I think we can’t expect a person to take on an entirely additional job and expect them to take the same pay for it,” Dalton said. “I just don’t think it’s fair ... in light of the fact we gave everybody else in the district a raise. Believe me, I have sensitivity to the economic issues, but, the fact is, if we had that much concern about the economic issues, then we shouldn’t have given everyone else in the district raises, which we did.”

“I am not in disagreement at all with increasing the salary for this position,” Knott said following the board’s vote on McKillip’s pay. “I agree with that.” However, he said he favored a seven-percent raise, not the higher amount approved on Storie’s recommendation.

The board also approved pay increases for CAB bus drivers at the Dec. 16 meeting. Acting on a recommendation from Storie, the board voted unanimously to give drivers a 2.6-percent increase on their daily rates for this school year, plus one-percent retroactive raises for each of the past two school years.

Board members weren’t the only ones to weigh in on the issue of employee raises at the Dec. 16 meeting. Just prior to adjournment, three local citizens offered their own comments.

Ray Hibbert, whose wife, Theresa, had her job as extracurricular treasurer at Knightstown High School cut last fall as a cost-saving measure, was the first to address the board. With respect to employee pay issues, he questioned keeping an employee’s pay at the same level when some of the duties of their job have been given to another employee.

“I think most businesses would ... give that person a cut in pay,” said Hibbert, “and it would be called a demotion.”

In light of what he said he believed was an economic depression affecting the country, Jim Hope told the board he didn’t think any CAB employees should be getting raises at this time. “I think you ought to start holding the line,” he said. “I think you ought to stop raises. ... You better start cutting back every penny you can.”

The final citizen to address the board was Theresa Hibbert. “I don’t know why I got let go because you guys said that there was no funds,” she said. “And now, with everybody getting their raises, there seems to be money somewhere. ... I feel that you guys can afford to pay me and I would like to have my job back.” Board members offered no response to these public comments. (More CAB School Board news will appear in next week’s Banner.)


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