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SACS classified staff could get 1 percent raises

Nurses, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, maintenance employees and other classified staff at Southwest Allen County Schools could soon see a 1 percent increase in pay if the school board gives approval at its next meeting.

On Tuesday, the board discussed a 1 percent increase for full-time and part-time classified staff. Business Manager Jim Coplen said the increase would cost the district about $44,000.

Coplen said the money has been approved for the fiscal year 2014 as part of the state funding formula because of the district’s increasing enrollment and increases to the funding formula. If approved at the next board meeting, the increase would go into effect on Jan. 1, Coplen said.

Coplen said if the increase is approved, it would be the second year in a row for pay raises for classified staff. Last year, the district approved a 2.1 percent wage increase for classified staff.

“We had several years where we went without wage increases,” Coplen said. “We did give stipends here and there, but as far as ongoing increases, there wasn’t a whole lot until last year.”

Summer projects

Also on Tuesday, the board voted to use $600,000 from the district’s Rainy Day Fund to cover the cost of professional and legal fees for summer projects.

In August, the board agreed to move forward on five project bundles, which include improvements and restoration projects at several schools in the summer of 2014.

The improvements include a $1.7 million plan to renovate the football field and track at Homestead High School and Summit and Woodside middle schools, as well as $1.4 million in security improvements, Coplen said.

The five project bundles will cost less than $2 million each and will be paid for by general obligation bonds that are repaid with public tax dollars.

Coplen said the money will be returned to the Rainy Day Fund after the construction bidding and bond processes are complete. The Rainy Day Fund has a balance of about $1.5 million.

The board will save money that would have been spent on interest if the district had to set up the bonds before the projects begin, he said.“It’s a savings in interest over time for the school district,” Coplen said.