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Seneca School Board approves two percent raise for all staff
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The Seneca School Board decided to increase the 2016-17 wages of academic, support and supervisory staff by two percent.

The motion was made by board member Brian Reynolds, who has favored the raise in previous discussions. Larry Kelley seconded the motion and the board passed it on a 6-0 vote with board member Chad Sime abstaining. Sime’s wife is employed by the district.

In introducing the subject, Reynolds stated his reasons for favoring a two percent raise for the district’s employees.

“I think we should be looking at a two percent increase because I like what we have now and I don’t want to lose it,” Reynolds said. “We have good employees and I want to keep them.”

“I don’t disagree with you,” Kelley told Reynolds. He went on to point out that in 2010, when the union still represented the teachers, they voluntarily put off asking for raises because the district found itself in a revenue pinch due to a decline in state aid.

In answer to a question, district administrator Dave Boland told the board the district won’t have a solid idea of what might be coming up in state aid until July 1. However, he noted they have been given the impression to not expect much.

Kelley noted that the retirement of three veteran teachers would create a savings when younger teachers are hired starting at lesser amounts. Kelley and Boland estimated the savings to the district would probably be around $40,000 and the proposed two percent increase should cost the district about $26,000.

Later in the meeting, the board approved the purchase of 40 Chromebook computers. They would be given to the incoming freshmen class of 21 students and another 15 would be for elementary school use with a couple on hand as spares if needed.

The price of the Cloud-based computers is $197 each, Boland told the board. With the necessary installed software the entire purchase will come $8,860.

In preliminary financial report on the 2015-16 budget, which ends on June 30, Boland informed the board things looked good with lower fuel expenditures. There was also $10,000 less expenditures than budgeted for the food service. However, some of these savings were offset by increased costs for special services for a student, who moved into the district. Boland also said when the budget is closed out, there will be a clearer picture of the revenues—particularly of the food service revenue.

More good news from the administrator was that employee health insurance costs would remain the same in the coming year, which has not been the case for many years.

In other business, the Seneca School Board:

• cancelled a joint agreement with North Crawford for the service of Special Education Director Pat Wenske due to her recent retirement

• approved an agreement with Wauzeka-Steuben to share the services of a Spanish teacher

• approved an agreement with Lancaster and Cassville to share the services of a school psychologist

• approved a facility use request to allow the building to be used for hunter safety classes this summer

• agreed to pay $200  to renew the district’s membership in the Association for Equity in Funding

• agreed to pay a $500 membership in the Rural School Alliance to support their advocacy work

• agreed to pay $2,140 to continue their membership in the Wisconsin Association of School Boards.

• renewed their membership for $200 in a shared purchasing co-op noting that the organization saves them far more than the fee in reduced costs

• reviewed recent listening session feedback from students, staff, parents and the public

• liberalized the rules for employees to make changes to their 403b savings plans

• honored retiring elementary special education teacher Christa Baumeister with the monthly recognition award for her 17 years of service to the district.