The Benton School Board has approved a new certified and classified salary schedule after a presentation by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Larry Smith and a lengthy discussion Wednesday.
While the schedule was unanimously approved by the board members in attendance, there was concern from some board members that the revamped schedule appeared unfair and did not properly compensate teachers who have been with the district for many years.
Board Member Paul Childress and Board President Dio Vannucci expressed concern that Smith and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Eric Saunders were both receiving greater raises than Assistant Superintendent Dr. Kim Anderson.
Smith, who is in his first year with the district, explained to the board how compensation is calculated based on experience, years with the district and days worked in a contract year.
Both Childress and Superintendent Dr. Mike Skelton expressed their thoughts that the district must also stay competitive with its salaries or risk losing good teachers to other districts.
“The top two elementary candidates that we had last year … didn’t take our offer because they had offers in Bryant,” Skelton said during Wednesday night’s special meeting.
While Childress did vote in favor of the proposal, he stated that he still had continued concerns.
“My point of concern is just the fact that I don’t feel like we are rewarding experienced teachers,” Childress said. “That’s just where I see that. I just don’t feel like that that’s happening.”
Vannucci stated that while the proposal is not perfect, the new schedule corrects 75 to 80 percent of the problems that are wrong with the current schedule and 90 percent of the staff will receive a raise of some kind.
“I would love to give every teacher at Benton an equal raise … we have to look at the greater good,” Vannucci said. “The largest percentage of our teachers, 66 percent, are going to get a raise of over 2 grand. That’s a phenomenal number. It’s a very small percentage that’s getting that lesser raise in my opinion.”
The board also approved the second land sale in a month, letting go of a piece of property that has been in the district more than 130 years.
The district will sell 2.92 acres of land on Arkansas 35 South to Joseph M. Suit and Janice N.Suit for $35,000.
“(The land) is nothing that we can really benefit from as far as any kind of building or anything like that,” Skelton said.
The district received two offers on the property and after a counter proposal agreed to sell the property.
The board also approved a change order request regarding kitchen renovations at Howard Perrin Elementary. The price for the project decreased by $14,301, bringing the total maximum price to $784,985.
Board member Randy Mitchell was absent from the meeting.
All meeting are open to the public and attendance is encouraged.