Staff members deemed essential and who worked during the school closure will receive back pay originally not issued by the school district.

The time period the three staff members were working was from March 25 to April 10. The back pay rates for the staff were approved at the district’s board meeting April 21.

The district had issued a list of essential staff to the board at its March meeting, but missed a few staff members.

“We came across a few other people that had worked over that short closure because we needed some things to get done,” Superintendent Zach Templeton said.

They district may have to revisit this topic in May due to finding another staff member who was working during that period. The information had come to the district too late for last week’s meeting.

Salary schedules and health benefits renewal

Salary for certified staff and benefits renewals were discussed last week. The district over the past couple of years has changed its base pay for first-year teachers to make it more competitive. The district also has tried to change its compression ratio, which is the average difference between first-year teachers and those with 15-plus years’ experience.

Proposed salary changes will increase district expenses anywhere from $158,000 to $475,000. So, considerations have to be made related to COVID-19 economic impacts.

The district expects to see a decrease in sales tax revenue, but because the district receives such a significant portion from the federal government, it likely won’t see a significant decrease in the budget formula, Templeton said.

“We are not in a bad position,” he said.

The board will hold a study session on teacher salary schedules before the May board meeting. Teachers will receive their contracts without a change in pay from the 2019-20 school year, but they will include a caveat that any increases will be factored once the board makes a decision on any changes to the final salary schedule in May. Teacher contracts typically are sent by April 15, but were sent out a little later since the contracts were awaiting approval by the board.

The district will increase it’s contribution to health insurance premiums by $15 from $514 to $529. Some employee only plan options include a $529 value premium, so those employees would not have to make a contribution to their insurance plan. The district contribution increase was approved.

Athletic Field update

Athletic field turf installation is nearly complete at the Mexico High School athletic complex. Athletes will now have a turf football field, baseball infield and soccer field on which to play.

A portion of the soccer field was installed with a slightly wrong color, so the contractor, ATG Sports, pulled up the section and replaced it, Superintendent Zach Templeton said.

Other completed work includes lighting at the softball field and fencing at the baseball field. Other projects nearing completing are the batting cages and fencing at the soccer field.

In other business:

Melissa Chastain and David Cochrane’s administrator contracts were approved by the school board. Chastain will serve as assistant superintendent, while Cochrane is the high school assistant principal.

The board held first readings of multiple operational policy updates. Most of the changes are in response to updates in state legislation.

The board approved 2020-21 certified teacher contracts.