EAST HELENA — School employees in East Helena will see a pay increase for the next two years.
School trustees approved a salary increase for all employees at the board meeting Monday night at East Valley Middle School.
Teachers, para-educators and administrators ratified their agreement extending their contracts another two years and receiving a slight pay increase.
“Negotiations went well — everyone worked hard to come to an agreement,” Superintendent of East Helena Schools Ron Whitmoyer said.
Educators, or members of the East Helena Education Association, will receive a 1.5 percent increase or $750, whichever is greater, to their salaries next year and a 0.5 percent or $250, whichever is greater, for the second year.
Administrators, including the superintendent, will receive the same increases.
Para-educators, secretaries and custodians, or members of the East Helena Education Support Association, will receive 32-cent-per-hour pay increase the first year and 25-cent-per-hour increase the second.
Mark Diehl, board member who worked with the collective bargaining committee of EHEA, admitted he was surprised it came together so quickly.
In other district news, 100 percent of third-graders in East Helena scored above proficient on the state’s reading test.
Whitmoyer said he never thought 100 percent proficiency was possible, but admitted he was wrong.
The Montana Comprehensive Assessment System (MontCAS) includes a Criterion-Referenced Test, a
Criterion-Referenced Test-Alternate, and an English Language Proficiency Test every spring to third- through eighth-graders to all Montana students.
The district’s math proficiency rate overall increased less than three percent from 2010 to 2011, 76.5 to 79.3, respectively.
The same third graders that scored perfectly in reading improved their math score from 79 to 86 percent. The state’s math average for the same grade level is 70 percent and 85 perfect in reading.
“This is thanks to a dedicated group of teachers who push themselves to the limits, support behind them from administration, and students working their tails,” Whitmoyer said. “Apparently, anything is possible.”
Whitmoyer said it’s a testament to the ladder of quality teaching through the years.
Students in East Helena also beat the state average in reading and math at every grade level.
“We’d be short-sighted to say it depends on one test,” EVMS Principal Dan Rispens said. “We have to be there to provide emotional support, mentoring contact and build relationships with kids so they’ll work to their greatest potential.”
Rispens was a little disappointed with the improvements at the middle school level, particularly in math.
Rispens said he expects to see more growth in math next year as all the training and supplies are more ingrained in the school day.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or firstname.lastname@example.org