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Cabell County Schools employees get raise

Oct. 15, 2013 @ 11:29 PM

HUNTINGTON -- A pay increase for Cabell County Schools employees was welcomed by members of the Cabell County Education Association, who also encouraged board members to continue to push for more competitive compensation for area teachers.

The Cabell County School board approved a measure to give employees a 1.05 percent increase over current tables for all of the school employees during its regular meeting Tuesday night at the Cabell County Board of Education Office.

The raises will go into effect with a start date from July 1, 2013.

Employees will be compensated the difference in their paychecks in one of the next two pay periods, and their paychecks will level out for the rest of the school year with the raise included, said Jody Lucas, treasurer for the Cabell County Board of Education. Substitute teachers and employees who did work during the summer also will be compensated at a later date, he said.

Lucas noted the raise will move the county's average salary schedule from 12th highest to 8th highest in the state of West Virginia.

"I think we have the best school system, a premier school system," said Lucas. "As a former school employee and as treasurer, I would like to see us in the top five."

The $891,000 to compensate for the raises will come from Cabell County Schools' general fund, and Lucas said he intends for the raise to be something that happens year after year, noting the raise wasn't a "one-shot deal."

Vera Miller, president of the Cabell County Education Association, addressed the board saying that school employees were encouraged by the raise.

She also said that, when regular raises in other school systems go into effect next year, she said Cabell County likely will drop in the state ranking without additional action from the board.

"I applaud the board for seeing the need to be competitive," Miller said. "The board always has been more than cooperative in working with us on different issues. However, and there's always that 'but,' the surrounding school systems that are above us in salary continue to poach teachers away that were trained in Cabell County and can provide Cabell County students with the best education.

"We encourage you to keep pushing and pushing to make sure we don't lose more good teachers."

In a written statement distributed to the board, Miller said she would continue to seek salary increases.

In addition to the salary increases, the board also set a firm start date for Huntington East Middle School.

HEMS students will be privy to an extended Christmas Break in order to allow preparation for them to attend classes at the new facility in January 2014.

The board approved a measure that will allow a staggered entry for students into the new school located between Norway Avenue and U.S. 60, near the Walmart, following Christmas Break.

Teachers at Huntington East will report to work with all Cabell County Schools teachers on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, for a non-instructional day of work.

Huntington East students will be the exception on Friday, Jan. 3, 2014, when all students return to school for class.

The Huntington East students will have staggered start dates the following week. Eighth-grade students will attend the school Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. Seventh-grade students will report Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, and sixth-grade students will report Friday, Jan. 10, 2014.

All students will report to the new campus on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014.

The staggered entrance will mean that Huntington East students will miss five instructional days of class, which is a scenario similar to other schools in the county that have been constructed in the past decade, said Todd Alexander, administrative assistant for secondary schools.

Alexander said the staggered start date will be beneficial to everyone involved.

"The kitchen staff will have all new equipment in a new kitchen that they will have to become familiar with, and it's easier to do that when they are feeding 250 students the first three days opposed to 800," Alexander said. "It gives faculty a chance to help parents get acquainted with the school and point out where certain entrances and rooms are located, and it'll give parents the chance to learn the lay of the land and become familiar with the traffic flow."

He noted that West Virginia Department of Education officials were not "the biggest fans" of Huntington East students losing five instructional days during the transition, but he said they understood the need for the days. He said the department was aware and supportive of the transition.

In other business, the board also approved the purchase of 11 new school buses for a total of $1,068,715 from Matheny Motor Truck Company in Parkersburg, and employees from Culloden Elementary were recognized for that school's distinction as a National School of Excellence for the 2012-2013 school year.

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