School board okays district wide salary hikes


School is out for the summer, but business continued as the Wahkiakum School District Board of Directors met on Tuesday evening to approve raises for all employees except the superintendent, select a bond underwriter, and discuss other business.

With negotiations concluded, directors approved a three year contract with a 6 percent increase across the board for teachers and staff. They will receive cost of living adjustments in years two and three of the contract.

The board approved a $12,000 salary adjustment for the business manager due to increased responsibilities.

“The people who do what Shelby (Garrett) does are worth their weight in gold because they have become specialists. My understanding is that there are school districts fighting for these people,” Director Paula Culbertson said. “We sincerely feel that this is a very fair thing to do.”

One year contracts were approved for both principals, Stephanie Leitz and Nikki Reese. They received a 6 percent increase as well and both will receive $108,245 beginning July 1.

The cost for the Traffic Safety Fee, or driver training was increased from $330 to $350 and the daily substitute teacher pay rate was increased to $150.

Hoping to put a bond on the ballot next February, the board had listened to presentations from two bond underwriters earlier this year. After some discussion on Tuesday, the board voted to select Piper Jaffray.

In other news, the district will be acquiring an air quality indicator.

“When we had the fires last summer I started talking to Chris Bischoff at Health and Human Services.,” Superintendent Brent Freeman said. “When we had that fire in late February on SR 4, we ended up canceling outdoor activities and sports on one of those days. [Bischoff] found a company that has air quality indicators. We...are on high ground and are centrally located. They are going to try to get two sensors. They are going to put one here at the high school and another somewhere else in the county. We’ll have a ground zero reading on air quality. We won’t have to guess.”

Freeman spoke about five employees who retired from the district this year: Sue Garn, Cathy Murphy, Karly Gates, Cinnon Tarabochia, and Mary Moonen. Freeman added up all the years they served at the school district: 199 years of experience.

The commercial kitchen/fish processing center project is still waiting for a bid.

“It’s a tough time of year to find someone,” Freeman said.

Freeman had some welding and plasma cutting work done by students in Kyle Hurley’s class on display.

“You’re going to see more of this,” Freeman said. “They are doing some great work out there. Where I see us going is being able to document this time better. It’s one thing for a student to have something to show mom, but it’s another to be able to say I have 35 hours working a Plasmacam on a resume.”


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