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3.75 Percent Pay Raises for Ladue Teachers, Administrators

Board is taking measures to remain competitive with neighboring school districts.

The shakedown cruise for the successful Prop 1 .49 cent tax levy in Ladue didn’t launch quite as smoothly as expected.

Ladue parents, Kelly Waller, 617 High Hampton Rd., Ashley J. Margulis, 46 Picardy Ln, and Jill Moore, 8989 Moydalgan Dr. took turns questioning the 3.75 pay raises to be given to certified staff and administrators.

The collective speakers felt monies could be spent in other areas like reducing the size of classrooms. They visibly showed their disappointment while taking turns at the podium during public speaking sessions of the Ladue School District Board meeting Monday night. Each said they were strong supporters of Prop 1 but probably wouldn’t be in four more years when the district comes back with another request for additional funds.

Patch asked Ladue adminstrators whether Ladue teachers were being paid the same as comparable districts such as Pattonville.

Dr. Jason Buckner, assistant superintendent for business and finance set the record straight. “Over the past four years, Pattonville has raised salaries of their teachers 11 percent while Ladue has been able to raise them 9 percent.”

Further, Buckner compared administrative salaries of the chief financial officers. His salary is $125,000 while the Pattonville CFO’s is $159,000.

The speakers one by one urged the board to table salary increases (collectively $1.4 million of the $7 million raised through Prop 1), some 17 percent of the overall budget.”

The board declined. “I personally conducted some 20 public meetings where we discussed salary increases should the tax levy pass,” said Dr. Buckner. “Further, all the details of pay increases is in board documents on the district’s website.”

Board member Andy Bresler stated that Ladue must remain competitive as not to be outdone by neighboring districts. It was stated that several Ladue teachers and administrators have moved on to neighboring districts, mentioning higher salaries as the reason for leaving. Brentwood has hired away several Ladue teachers and administrators recently.

“I know the 3.75 percent (raise) is above the mark up, but this is not about making up for past increases (missed); this is about staying competitive, and that’s why I am voting for it,” said Bresler. “We need to be good stewards of the district’s money,” said Bresler.

Veteran board member Ken Smith concurred. “Salaries must be commensurate with districts we are comparable with. We run the risk of losing too many good teachers to other districts,” he claimed.

Board member Jeff Koplow was appalled at the criticism of pay raises for administrators. Kopolow was a history and political science teacher at the high school for nearly 40 years.”Good administrators found methods to keep out of my way so I could concentrate on teaching (students.) I know the economy is tough but we have to maintain good staff morale. This staff has been battered pretty much the past couple of years,” said Kopolow.

The administrators got zero raises last year, and with increased insurance premiums, they took financial steps backwards. At the same time, the administration is down one and one half employees, so the overall distribution pool is no larger than last year.

Another board member Stacy Washington showed her support. “Its not like we decided just tonight to give (3.75 percent) raises, we have been discussing this for a very long time. The board voted unanimously to approve raises and approved a plan to provide specific stipends to teachers who lead after-school activities such as clubs and sports through out the district.

In other business, the board voted 7-0 to approve a contract with Chartwell’s for $1.2 million to provide food services for the district going forward. The district is required by law to bid food service contracts every five years. Chartwell’s has been the company of record since 1997. Chartwell’s bid was accepted over newcomers Aramark and Arbor Managment, Inc.

Starting salaries for new hires was set at $39,635.00 next year with unanimous approval by the board.

Editor's Note: Jill Moore, one of the speakers at the meeting has requested that Patch set the record straight with her request for salary information. We agree that we erred and have corrected the article, and Jim Baer has personally issued an apology to Jill Moore for information that was stated incorrectly. Patch regrets any misunderstanding that might have come out of this discussion.

As a followup to the meeting, a question was raised after the board meeting about comparable salaries. Patch inquired the next day with Dr. Buckner, the district's CFO. No discussion was specificially held during the meeting concerning Pattonville's salary schedule. These figures were an outcome between Patch and Dr. Buckner the next day after the meeting.

Patch and Jim Baer apologize for failing to correctly attribute comments to speaker names.

Kelly Waller April 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Mr. Baer, you were inaccurate with the comments that you attributed to me. If you are going to use a person's name, then the comments you attribute to them MUST be accurate. My name should not have been attached to any of the comments in this article, as they are not what I stated. I do appreciate your quick response to rectify this.
Kelly Waller April 26, 2012 at 03:06 PM
I have no personal problem with Mr. Baer, but it is very disconcerting to see four opinions attributed to you that you did not assert. My comments did NOT state 1) whether I was or was not a strong supporter of Prop1, 2) whether I would or would not support future tax increases 3) that I wanted dollars spent in other areas or 4) that I desired to have the vote tabled. While I did make comments, none of these were mine! If he is going to use names, he needs to get the assigned names to correct comments. He did not address any of what I said in his article, which is fine, as I will dialogue with the board members about those comments in greater detail and having our board know my feelings is all I was really after in the first place.
Robin April 26, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Kelly- I wholeheartedly agree you should have your position clarified and that it is totally reasonable of you to want a "public" clarification- I didn't mean to offend you in any way or make you feel defensive. I was bothered by Mr. Galts personal sounding attack as I think it isn't helpful to our having an intelligent, respectful dialogue about our district and community! Right on for you that you attended the Board meeting and your ar taking an active role in the future of our schools!!
BJones April 26, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Interesting that the Post reported the "calamity" to the district would be losing Spanish classes for K-2nd grade. Also interesting that the FIRST thing done with the (anticipated) new tax money is to give across the board raises. Not keeping vital positions, mind you, but raises for all. Reminds me of a when they "needed" an early childhood center and bought a high school with the money - then build a nice new administrative wing there. Yep, nothing but the truth from this bunch.
Kelly Waller April 26, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Robin, Thank you. You did not offend me. I just wanted everyone reading on this to be sure to understand that there were some miscommunications in the above, that is all. It was great to see a few parents at the last meeting. I hope that is the start of more parent involvement. Our board deserves to hear from caring, concerned parents. It can only benefit the district and the kids in the long run to have parents advocating for their childrens' educations through open dialogue. Our board needs and should have support and input from us.

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