Despite a warning from the superintendent on the legality of the manner in which a motion was made, the Pine Bluff School District Board of Directors voted during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night to pay personnel who taught summer school in 2013 the same amount that those who taught in the summer of 2012 earned.
Board member Phyllis Wilkins made a motion in favor of the measure despite it not being present on the meeting agenda.
“This motion is wrong,” district superintendent Linda Watson said. “This motion is illegal as it stands. The legal way to make this motion is to suspend the rules to add an item to the agenda.”
Several board members asked Watson how they should proceed with the motion as it was presented.
“I don’t know that there is a proper way to do this,” Watson said. “My mouth is closed.”
Board secretary Leon Jones asked for information on teacher pay scales for the past two years.
Board vice president Ken Dickson made a motion — which failed due to lack of a second — to move the Wilkins motion off the floor temporarily.
Jones again asked for salary information.
“Can we see the salaries paid last summer and last school year as well as those paid this summer?” Jones asked.
Watson asked district director of business and finance Pam Winkler to go to her office to get the information requested by Jones.
After approximately 10 minutes Winkler returned with copies of the salary schedules for each board member and Watson.
“The reason for the discrepancy is that in 2012 teachers were paid using a six-hour daily rate because there was no teacher prep period provided for them,” Watson said. “This past summer teachers were paid on a seven-hour daily rate because of the addition of a teacher prep period to the schedule.”
Wilkins was keen to find out whether or not teachers knew what their 2013 rate of pay would be before the beginning of summer school.
“Were the teachers told they weren’t going to get the same rate of pay this year before they started summer school?” Wilkins asked.
After more discussion and debate between board members, Watson and Winkler, it was agreed that the district would owe the summer school 2013 teachers a total of $48,716 to bring their pay up to the same level as that paid to summer school teachers the year before.
Board member Andrea Roaf-Little asked if the use of the district’s operations fund to pay the 2013 summer school teachers
“I need to get some direction on this,” Watson replied.
All board members except Dickson voted in favor of the Wilkins motion.
Immediately after the vote, board president Piccola Washington asked Watson how the board should proceed with assessing the legality of the payment increase.
“Well, the board has just voted to provide this pay increase to our summer school teachers from this year so there is nothing more to be done other than to carry out the board’s wishes,” Watson replied.
In other business the board voted to enter into a contract between the school district and current district legal counsel Luther Sutter with a yet-to-be determined annual salary.
“Some board members have expressed an interest in creating a formal contract so I recommend that we sign a contract with Luther Sutter to represent the school district,” Watson said.
The board approved a recommendation from Watson to hire an unbiased third party to conduct a salary study on all certified and classified positions in the school district with the aim of improving the payment inequities that currently exist in the district.
The board heard the financial report for the month ending Aug. 31 as presented by Winkler in which the district had a beginning balance of $10,952,336; monthly revenue of $3,412,689; monthly expenditures of $2,926,930; an amount available for operating of $10,059,422; and a total balance for all funds of $15,193,459.