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School board approves administrators' raisesTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Supt. Marty Bassett
Photo by George Lauby
Greg Renner

North Platte school superintendent Marty Bassett will receive $193,000 next year and the school's top 22 administrators will get a 3 percent pay raise, following a unanimous vote Tuesday by the North Platte Board of Education.

Bassett receives $187,200 this year, so his raise is 3.1 percent. The salary equal $739.46 a day, with 261 work days a year.

The district’s top 23 administrators will get raises, including those in the central office, the school principals, assistant principals and high school athletic directors.

North Platte resident Greg Renner urged the board not to grant the raises because administrators have not earned it, based on poor academic performances on state tests. Renner said only 50 percent of sixth grade students at Madison Middle School are expected to be proficient in math – well below a failing grade.

Renner said raises should be merited, based on performances, not just for “being there,” Renner said. “We expect results for our tax dollars. Administrators are paid 3-6 times more than teachers are paid. I just think something needs to be done,” he said.

The board voted 5-0 to grant the raises. Lisa Bianco was absent, as was Bassett.

The district’s business manager Stuart Simpson, who hold a masters of business administration degree and has worked in the district for eight years, will receive $141,440.

Associate superintendent Tami Eshleman will receive $134,823.

On the low end of the pay-scale is Assistant High School Athletic Director Brett Joneson, who will receive $82,400. Joneson is finishing his first year at North Platte. Assistant High School Principal Peggy Bourge will receive $96,820 next year. She is also finishing her first year. 

Five elementary principals will receive an additional $2,000 a year stipend because they lead Title 1 schools that have extra programs funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The schools are located in neighborhoods where more residents earn low-to-moderate income than other neighborhoods. Those administrators have to oversee more paperwork and summer sessions, School Board President Kathy Phares said.

The Title schools are Jefferson, Lincoln, Cody, Washington and Buffalo.

The total cost of the top 23 salaries is $1.73 million. The raises add about $33,500 to the districts’ salary costs over this school year.

That total would be higher but Osgood and Lake Principal Midge Mougey has resigned. Mougey’s salary would have increased to more than $109,000. The Osgood-Lake position will pay $92,000 next year, the base pay for first-year principal Robin Vahle, who the board officially hired Tuesday. (see related report.)

School Board President Kathy Phares said the salaries were compared to other districts. Eshleman said North Platte has been transparent about the top salaries, and noted that Bassett works without tenure, unlike the other administratorsm, who are tenured after three years.

Renner said he was speaking for the taxpayers of North Platte.

“I would really appreciate it if you would raise the level of education,” he said.

And, Renner mentioned that the middle school in the Colorado school district that Superintendent Marty Bassett left two years ago fell into relative disarray during the fall semester 2013, with 25 percent of the students threatening to leave.

Building upgrades

The board also considered a study of upgrades to elementary school buildings at Cody, Buffalo and Washington. Heating, ventilation, air conditioning, windows and electrical lines need to be upgraded, business manager Stuart Simpson said. The boilers at Buffalo and Cody are more than 50 years old.

The estimated costs: Buffalo - $1.2 million. Cody - $1.7 million. Washington - $1.3 million.

Simpson said prices are still being finalized and the district’s finance committee will come up with a firm proposal and direction for the board next month. He suggested the district will issue bonds to pay for the projects.

In other business, the board:

• Agreed to hire another fifth grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary to make the student-teacher ratio there about 17 to 1.

Overall, the number of full-time-equivalent teachers in the school district will remain the same, due to retirements and resignations, Eshleman said.

The additional teacher makes Jefferson entirely a three-track school, meaning there will be three classes in every grade.

• Discussed adding a pre-school teacher at Washington Elementary, but the district is waiting on word that grant funds are available, board president Kathy Phares said. The aim is to have 16 students in each of two pre-school sessions, morning and afternoon. The teacher’s lounge at the school would be converted to a computer classroom to make more room, Bassett has said.

Parents of nearly two-dozen pre-schoolers have expressed interest in the program, with more expected, Bassett has said.

• Adopted a new policy adding e-cigarettes to the list of banned tobacco products on all school property, including parking lots as well as the cars in the parking lots.

Lookalike tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, are also prohibited.

The policy states, “Tobacco product look-alikes, and products intended to replicate tobacco products either by appearance or effect” are prohibited.

• Accepted the resignations of Kaitlin Herstedt, Stacy Laue, Jason Reed and Denise Shoults effective May 16.

• Approved teaching contracts for Rachel Smidt and Ashley Virchow for the 2014-15 school year. 

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 3/25/2014
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