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No salary increase contract reached with teachers

BALTIMORE – Liberty Union-Thurston School Board members approved a tentative agreement Monday night with the district’s teachers’ union for a two-year contract beginning July 1.

Superintendent Paul Mathews told The Beacon that the pay scale is ‘frozen’ for the entire two-year term. Teachers will also not get ‘step’ increases. In flusher times, teachers often got two raises per year as the entire pay scale was increased and most moved up a ‘step’ based on years of service and education levels.

Mathews said there were no changes to the health care plan this year. Last year, deductibles and co-pays were increased which provided significant savings for the self-insured plan.

The new agreement ‘shares’ some of those savings with teachers and offsets some of their increased medical costs by paying all teachers $1,000 a year the next two Decembers. Mathews said employees pay 20 percent of the costs for a family policy and 10 percent for a single policy.

In other business Monday night, board members unanimously approved the low bid of $121,000 for exterior work this summer around the elementary school. The engineer’s estimate was $147,000. Most of the work is adding concrete for sidewalks to match more closely with actual traffic patterns. The bid was awarded to a sole proprietor, J. M. Miller Enterprises.

Elementary school parent and school volunteer Amanda Alt asked board members to first improve security at the school before making exterior improvements. She distributed quotes to install a six-foot high chain link fence around the playground.

Mathews told her that the Board’s Safety Community has been reviewing plans to improve security with law enforcement and school safety personnel. “Run and scatter” drills are part of the new safety measures being considered and a six-foot fence would be counterproductive. “You are going to see some changes,” Mathews assured her

Alt said a number of parents are ready to help raise funds if necessary to improve safety. She was reminded that the school was originally built in 1978.

Baltimore Council member and Service Committee chair Jim Hochradel brought board members up to date on the Safe Routes to School project. He said costs have now exceeded estimates twice. A revised engineer’s estimate for the sidewalk/bike path starting at Jefferson Street was overcome when the state came up with and additional $30,000 for the estimated $250,000 project. Unfortunately, when the project was bid, the lowest bid came in $32,000 above the revised engineer’s estimate.

Hochradel said they could either come up with more money or cut back the scope. He proposed cutting the 900 feet of the project to be constructed on school property. After considerable discussion, Hochradel said he thought the village could find $16,000 for half of the additional cost. Board members agreed to match the village’s contribution if necessary. Hochradel said the issue could be averted if another project was unable to fund their match and gave up their grant award.

Co-students-of-the-month are seniors Leanna Bachman and Sierra Echols. Bachman is the daughter of Gregg and Christi Bachman. She is very active with FFA, holding several office locally and at the district level. She plays varsity softball and swimming.

Echols is the daughter of Crystal Echols. She is involved in FCCLA, Leo Club, basketball and track & field.

Board members also recog- nized band director Ben Factor for directing the concert band to its seventh straight year to the state competition. Mathews said the band has earned six superiors and one excellent. “We are so proud of their accomplishments,” he added. Both the marching and concert bands have gone to state competition for the last seven years.

High school chorale director Emily Fisher was honored for the group’s superior rating at state competition the last two years. “She’s got them on a roll,” Mathews said.

Baltimore Police Officer Jason Harget, who serves as school resource officer, and school technology coordinator John LaBelle were honored for linking school security cameras in real-time to laptop computers in police cruisers. An officer can monitor a camera at one school while driving to another. The project cost about $100.

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