Trustees on the East Helena School Board unanimously approved salary increases at a board meeting Monday night for teachers, paraprofessionals, and administrators for the upcoming school year.
The negotiating team for the 72 certified teachers in the district recommended a two percent or $1,000 (whichever is greater) increase based upon the agreement to switch insurance coverage to a lower premium which created flexibility in the budget, according to administration.
Jill Miller, an educator who represents the certified staff, said union members felt it was a fair deal that doesn’t put the district in a financial bind.
Paraprofessionals make up the district’s East Helena Education Support Association. The board approved a $0.20 per hour salary increase for these staff members.
The district’s 10 administrators were also approved for a two percent or $1,000 increase, whichever is greater.
Board Chairperson Ann Marie Thompson said she wished the district had “barrels and barrels of money.”
“I wish we had enough money to pay our staff what we really felt about them,” Thompson said.
Trustees renewed contracts for all employee groups with the biggest change coming in leadership at Eastgate Elementary.
Miller was recently selected as the new principal and will begin after Keith Obert retires at the end of the school year.
Miller attended high school in Havre and then earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
Her first teaching job was in Denton teaching music, but after a year she relocated to Helena, where she taught for three years.
Miller has spent the past 12 working in East Helena schools and also completed a master’s in music education from the University of Montana and a certification in educational leadership from Montana State University.
Being an administrator in East Helena was a goal Miller has worked toward for years and she says school officials have supported that endeavor.
A mother of three, Miller says she loves working with children and believes in quality public education.
Miller begins her contract this August and is earning a salary of $66,000.
Reporter Alana Listoe: 447-4081 or firstname.lastname@example.org