KEARNEY — Kearney Public School employees will be getting a compensation increase for the 2019-20 school year, representing a net impact of $700,000 in the KPS budget.
On Monday night the KPS Board of Education approved the next school year’s negotiated agreement with the Kearney Education Association, which gave teachers a 3.5 percent increase in compensation. A teacher earning $40,000 annually now will make $41,400. The board also approved an average increase of 4 percent for classified employees, 3.5 percent for classified/exempt employees and 3.5 percent for administrative staff.
These pay raises will affect all of the district’s employees. Next year, KPS Finance Director Chris Nelson said the district will have 858 employees in total.
The $700,000 impact represents less than 2 percent of the KPS budget.
On the revenue side, KPS is expecting an increase in state aid next year because of changes to the Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act formula recently approved by the Legislature. Nelson said the district is expecting a 2.81 percent increase in state aid, adding up to an additional $187,943 compared to last year.
Last year, the district received $6,694,300 in state aid, which Nelson noted at last year’s budget hearing was the lowest state aid the district had received since 1996-97.
The district has been losing state aid for the past five years, anywhere from $1.2 million to $1.5 million each year. Last year, the district got $1.2 million less than the previous year.
Overall, the district also is expecting larger tax revenue this year thanks to increased property valuations, but Board President Alex Straatmann said he does not expect the increase to be as low as the projected 3 percent.
“Based upon what I’ve heard from people with their little yellow postcards, I’m going to be very, very surprised if it’s 3 percent throughout the county,” Straatmann said.
Also at the Monday meeting, the school board:
- Approved a bid for sixth- and ninth-grade Chromebooks next year. The bid was awarded to Computer Hardware of Kearney for Lenovo 300e Chromebooks in the amount of $210,273.84.
- Heard a report from KPS District Security Committee Chair and Sunrise Middle School Principal Jeff Ganz, who reported there were only minor recommendations to the district’s safety and security plans this year.
- Heard a report from Kent Cordes of BD Construction, who said construction is continuing at Northeast Elementary School and the construction firm is nearing the point of being able to go to bid for projects at the high school. Some renovation work is also underway at Sunrise Middle School, and the board will hold future meetings in the Whittier Conference Room at the district office, 320 W. 24th St., because of that construction.
- Recognized state track champions Miko Maessner and Elle Dahlgren along with Nebraska High School Theater Academy award winners from KHS, including Drew Sinnard, Grace Clark, Jessica Kolbo, director Kari Vyhlidal and the entire cast of “Into the Woods,” who won the Outstanding Musical Theater Production award.