School Board approves raiseThe Jamestown Public School Board approved a 12.38 percent raise for one employee at its Finance Committee meeting Wednesday. Candy Windish, social worker at Jamestown High School, said her salary was inequitable to Kerrie Soulis, a social worker at the middle school, at the board’s regular meeting May 19.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
The Jamestown Public School Board approved a 12.38 percent raise for one employee at its Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.
Candy Windish, social worker at Jamestown High School, said her salary was inequitable to Kerrie Soulis, a social worker at the middle school, at the board’s regular meeting May 19.
Windish, who has more than 20 years of social work experience and began working for the district in 2004, has a salary of $39,678 for the 2007-2008 school year.
Soulis, who has more than 12 years of social work experience and began working for the district in 2007, has a salary of $40,029 for the 2007-2008 school year.
The board approved a salary for Windish at $44,591 for the 2008-2009 school year, which would give her credit for her bachelor’s degree and 13 years of experience. The board also approved hiring Soulis as a social worker in Jamestown Middle School’s Alternative program at $41,966 for the 2008-2009 school year.
The board had previously granted the finance committee power to act at its regular meeting, meaning its decision is final. Typically, committees make recommendations which are discussed and voted upon at the board’s regular monthly meetings.
Superintendent Bob Toso said the district looks at education level and years of experience when it offers salaries for professional contracts like Windish’s. An employee like Windish, hired two years before another employee like Soulis, may have a lower salary because social workers and other non-teaching professionals don’t advance like teachers do, which can cause a gap.
Salaries for professional staff like Windish are more discretionary than salaries for teachers. Non-teaching professionals’ salaries are determined by the school board individually whereas teachers’ contracts are determined collectively.
“In this case, it was, it was missed,” Toso said, saying this is the first time something like this has appeared before the board.
Toso said he didn’t grant Windish a raise because she came to him regarding her salary after the board had approved 4.84 percent raises for most JPS employees.
“The problem I had is that she came to me after her contract, not before,” he said.
Tanya Ostlie, board member, said the board approved raises for two other employees after the board approved the 4.84 percent raise and one of the employees didn’t even ask for it.
“I don’t feel that we need to keep on doing this,” Ostlie said, saying the board shouldn’t be making individual salary adjustments.
The board approved raises for two members of the non-teaching staff, Rae Ann Vandrovec, K-12 curriculum and staff development coordinator and Kathi Paulsrud, pre-school coordinator for special education, at its April meeting.
“We don’t have a system,” Toso said. “It’s just that we place them and try to be equitable.”
Ken Astrup, member, said the current system requires the district to give the same raise to most employees. A better system would allow administrators to give raises of different values to different people.
“We have to have that flexibility built in,” he said.
Toso said he would work on creating a salary schedule the district could use for its professional staff.
“We’re not going to solve the total problem right here, today,” he said.
In fact, approving Windish’s salary could result in another problem, Toso said.
A third social worker, Julie Welding, has a salary of $46,038 for the 2008-2009 school year. Welding has worked for the district for more than 26 years compared to Windish’s four school years, Toso said. The difference between the two salaries is fewer than $1,500. Toso suggested approving a smaller raise and then working on the salaries of each of the five social workers for upcoming school years.
Windish said she was not trying to obtain a salary as high as Welding’s, rather she approached the board as a matter of principal.
“I should not be paid less than someone new,” she said, saying it would be unfair to make her wait another year for a raise.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Jamestown Public School Board is June 16.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org