The $1.5 million budget to operate Bethlehem Elementary School easily won voter approval at the annual district meeting Wednesday night.
The operating budget for the 1997-98 school year is nearly 2 percent lower than this year's budget. And even when other money articles that passed are factored in, the school
board still is asking for less tax money next year than this year.
A major reason, school board member Jim Payette explained, is that other revenue sources are expected to go up next year. Also, the bond that paid for the school expansion several years ago is nearly paid off. The last payment is due in January.
The biggest item on the warrant after the operating budget was a three-year contract between the school board and teachers, a contract budgeted to add another $153,242 to personnel costs.
According to Payette, Bethlehem calculates raises differently than many other districts. How much an individual teacher will get for an increase depends on where he or she is in what is usually called the "step" schedule, the scale that takes into account years of experience and amount of college education.
The teachers who have reached the top of the scale will get 2 percent raises the first year of the contract, 3 percent raises in year two, and 2.5 percent in year three. Those still within the step scale won't get a percentage raise, only whatever raise would come from moving up a step.
The current contract runs out at the end of this school year; the new contract will start with the 1997/98 school year.
Payette finished his tenure on the school board, as did Kim Mackay-Pearson. Voters elected Lauren Corliss and Tina Greenlaw to replace them. A write-in candidate, Carol Carlson Cunningham, came in third in the race for two seats.
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