The Booneville School Board last week approved a raise for certified and most classified staff.

Superintendent John K. Parrish recommended a base raise of $750 for all certified staff and a raise of 25 cents per hour for classified staff.

The raise, Parrish said, is, on average, about 2 percent for employees and will likely cost the district about $215,000.

Parrish acknowledged the raises are more than a typical increase for the district.

"I’m (recommending) a little bit more raise this year than what we’ve had, because this is the first year since I’ve been here when we are not experiencing a drop in enrollment," said Parrish.

Specifically, the superintendent said the three-quarter average for last year reflects a 23 student increase over the previous year and the Legislature recently passed a 2 percent funding increase in the amount schools receive per student to $6,393 per student next year.

Combined, the increases will mean about $336,000 in additional funding for the next school year Parrish said.

There are four exceptions, Parrish said, because when the school board approved the current salary schedule there were four employees who were already making more than the schedule set for their respective jobs.

"We can’t really give them a raise, we’ve got to let the salary schedule catch up with them," said Parrish.

In those instances Parrish recommended a one-time bonus equal to what the employee would have received through a raise, to be paid in the middle of the next school year.

Asked by board member Carol Lloyd if the raises for other classified employees would mean that all employees are on equal terms, Parrish said in one of the four cases it would take another raise for that to happen but in the other three the employees getting the bonus in lieu of the raise it would be "a while" before the schedule catches up.

Parrish also said it is likely employees would take differing views on a bonus for co-workers making more than themselves.

"Some are going to say ‘at least give them something,’ but others would say ‘they make a whole lot more than I make anyway,’" said Parrish. "There’s no way to cover everyone."

Board member Stacey McCollough noted the four employees were hired before the schedule was created and at a particular rate.

In other matters in last week’s meeting, which was held a week early due to the normal meeting date falling on Class Night, the board approved using state partnership money to replace 11 heat and air units at the junior high school, approved the purchase of 260 computers at the elementary school and approved a resolution to participate in the School Choice program.

The state will pay for 57 percent of the costs to replace the heat and air units, about half of them at the school, but the school will be obtaining bids for units and using staff members, including two HVAC certified employees, to install the equipment rather than hire a turn key job to include replacing duct work.

The elementary school is next in line for new computers as they are using machines that are six or seven years old, Parrish said.

The resolution on school choice came about through Act 1227 which Parrish said stipulates a district can lose no more than 3 percent of its population through school choice.

Doing a raise now does not necessarily mean a bonus will or will not be possible in December, Parrish said.

"There are still some areas where we have too many employees in certain areas so there’s still some room where we can cut," said Parrish. "If everything falls right we can do a bonus or we can do a raise at a later time."