Summer Daze: Actual Costs, Security, and a Living Wage

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The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors held its monthly meeting on July 21, 2014, as did both the Facilities and Finance Committees. Seven Board Members were in attendance; Shawna Johnson and Sheri Melton were absent.

The Board approved all recommended action items, including: the GASB 45 Valuation Agreement with Conrad Siegel Actuaries, an asbestos removal agreement with EHC, routine resignations/retirements, changes in status, et al.

Security Officer Job Description

The Facilities Committee was presented with the job description for an Armed Security Officer. While comprehensive, created using the best of what other Districts are already doing, additional modifications may be needed.

However, the Facilities Committees approved the job description, and instructed Dr Newcome to add it to this week’s agenda as a last minute item. A self-imposed deadline, and a short meeting month, made it necessary to approve the description now, and tweak things as necessary.

Finalizing 2013-2014 Actual Costs

Daniel Carsley, Business Manager, informed the Finance Committee and Board that the 2013-2014 Actual Costs is expected to come in at 45.9 Million. This will be $1.6 Million under Budget.

The Finance Committee was also informed that revenue from the State, within the 2014-2015 Budget, is expected to be $141,000 short, mostly due to reductions to Governor Corbett’s Ready To Learn Block Grant.

Paying A Living Wage

The Board was asked to approve Salary Recommendations for the 2014-2015 school year. Prior to that vote, I asked the question, “With the hourly employees, are they all Collective Bargaining Positions?” The answer was no, the Cafeteria Staff are not. Without any further comment, the Salary Recommendations passed unanimously. I held my comments to the end of the meeting, because they were not intended to influence votes.

Based on the information I have available, a Living Wage for the single childless person, living in Chester County, is a mere $10.20/hr. It increases drastically for single parents, but $10.20/hr is the least we could pay and call it a Living Wage. Many Octorara hourly employees are paid less than this minimum threshold.

Collective Bargaining Contracts are contracts, and they must be adhered to. So, we are limited to paying what a contract states. However, I recommended the Board make it our goal, with those we have the power, that none are paid less than $10.20/hr.

We live in a District with a very high percentage of Economically Disadvantage and, in my opinion, too many of the District’s own employees are getting paid less than a Living Wage. There are many that would say $10.20/hr is too low for Chester County, but this would be a step in the right direction.

We have, in my opinion, two distinct dichotomies within the Octorara School District. On one hand, we have the average Classroom Teacher being paid an above average salary, and far above neighboring districts. On the other, we have hourly employees that are being grossly underpaid for their level of service and commitment.

Summer Daze: Actual Costs, Security, and a Living Wage, Page 2

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