By Chad Frey

Newton Kansan

Classified staff, that is non-teaching staff, in USD 373 picked up a small wage increase Monday night.

The board of education, which had previously approved a .10 per hour raise, approved an additional small increase to the base wages and reinstated raises based on experience.

"We had begun reviewing our earlier decision to provide a .10 an hour increase. As we continued through the budget process, the budget reflects another one percent increase to the base wage," said Russell Miller, Assistant Superintendent for Human and Fiscal Services. "And we feel an unfreezing of the salary schedule movement for classified staff is fair."

The percentage increase varies by person due to differing hourly rates, but this proposal — in addition to the previously approved .10 per hour — results in an average 2.3 percent increase over the previous year.

The motion to accept the proposal, which will cost the district about $105,000, was approved 5-2. Robin Gay and Renee Erickson voted against the measure.

"While I am appreciative of increasing wages for staff ... the inequity between what district administration is getting and classified is getting, I think is not fair and I can not support the increase because of that."

Erickson did ask if employees on the classified pay schedule would be "caught up" on the salary schedule for the years they were frozen.

According to Miller, employees who have not received movement on the schedule will be caught up to their current years of service.

"There are only three opportunities to move," Miller said. "We thought it fair to catch everyone up. Everyone working for more than four years will get that movement in addition to the increase to the base rate."

Administrators did not receive a raise last year, but did get more than 2.3 percent in the next budget.

"The amounts that had to do with administrative staff had to do with comparable positions in other districts and additional duties of people in administration," said superintendent Deb Hamm.

Overall payroll is down $142,000 over the past four years.

In other business the board:

• Recognized David Williams, speech and debate coach for Newton High School.

• Recognized area businesses which donated items for the creation of crisis kits for the school system.

• Recognized Project Search, which placed 100 percent of students in jobs following the first year of the program.

• Hosted a budget hearing for the 2013-14 budget. No members of the public chose to speak.

• Approved the 2013-14 budget.

• Approved changes to the negotiated agreement. The 2013-2014 Negotiated Agreement was ratified by the board on June 10 and at the recommendation of administration negotiations were reopened to consider improvements to the salary schedule — allowing step movement on the salary schedule. Changes to the negotiated agreement which were agreed to by both negotiating teams and were approved by a majority of the teacher bargaining unit.

• Adopted KASB policies.