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With Growing Enrollment, Dayton Schools Seek Added Faculty, Raises

Several members of the Dayton School Board plus Superintendent Jay Brewer met with representatives of Lincoln Elementary and Dayton High School's site-based committees as well as employees from the Central Office on Wednesday night to discuss wants and needs in preparation for the finer lines of the budget.
 
"We are creating a needs assessment, which is like a Christmas list, but more collaborative in that we are seeking input," said Brewer to lead off the meeting. "We have some extra money this year, due to increased student enrollment, but with what has been submitted, we have well over a million dollars worth of needs. We will probably be able to address some of those needs. The key word here being some."
 
Staffing needs came first on the agenda. Lincoln Elementary put in for a new intermediate general education teacher, a behavior intervention specialist, a reading intervention specialist, an LBD teacher, and a world language teacher. Dayton High school listed six­­­: a business teacher, a registrar, a reading teacher, counselor/behavior health therapist, extended employment hours for secretaries, and a special education teacher.
 
The top need on both lists had the most reasons to bolster the 'in favor of' arguments.
 
Greg Duty, principal of Lincoln elementary, produced numbers showing that growing enrollment is putting fourth grade class numbers over thirty. Taking a third grade teacher to help is not an answer so hiring another teacher is becoming a hard to ignore necessity, he said. Jeremy Dodd, principal of the high school, wants a business teacher because schools have to focus on college and career readiness, and offering business classes with Microsoft is necessary to have the students able to compete.
 
But then Brewer brought up salaries. Due to a new state mandate, everyone has to receive a 2 percent raise this year. The state is apparently accounting for one percent but the school district has to come up with the other percent. Brewer produced a handout listing salaries for certified teachers in the seven surrounding school districts in comparison with Dayton. He then made a case for increasing the starting salaries for the first three years to compete with other school districts in capturing good talented teachers.
 
"We are only going to go as far as our teachers," he reminded everyone. Then he pointed out the last few years of salaries for teachers, and recommended adding some money to those since teachers' retirement amount is determined from the last three to five years of work.
 
"I am going to spend more years in retirement than I did in teaching," Brewer only half joked, noting that he planned to live till 100. "But we have to be competitive at the end, too. I recommend adding to the first few years to get them in to our system, then adding to the last few years, and then addressing the middle."
 
Brewer also brought up the classified employees. He noted that Dayton's custodians make $8.88 an hour as opposed to Campbell County, which pays $11.06 an hour, and that bus drivers in Dayton make $11.09 in contrast to Campbell County's $14.75.
 
"Now they will receive their 2 percent, but we need to start adding money to that area so we don't get so far behind," explained Brewer.
 
Professional development needs were assessed, and then instructional needs and technology needs. These categories were largely to catch the district up with technological advancements and give the teachers enough time to acquire the professional development they need to keep up with teaching students.
 
Under the facilities category Greg Duty listed playground equipment, blinds for the whole school and trash cans, while Jeremy Dodd asked for a renovation of the library, and interior and exterior door locks.
 
"The locks on all our doors are not all workable," said Dodd. "And of course there is no way we can tell who has keys to the building. Only one way to fix that­­­change the locks and have keyless locks."
 
Brewer acknowledged that need. Then he talked about the need for better lighting around the building and the parking lots.
 
"It's Scooby Doo scary out there," said Brewer. "But changing the locks, and putting in lighting would use any extra money we have and more. I want to take the amount we might have that is extra and try to spread it around where we can make it count, and there are way too many places for it to go. We are in an enviable position. If things go right, we may double our taxable base eventually and no other school district around here will do that. We also are the second highest in the state in student growth. We have hope and potential. But if I asked everyone in this room what their priority is in needs I would get 30 different answers. However, it is early in the budget process. This meeting has been very helpful."
 
Story & photos by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
 
Photo: Lincoln Elementary principal Greg Duty explains why he listed staffing needs as he did at a special meeting for school board and site based committee members Wednesday night. 
Slideshow Images & Captions: 
-Superintendent Jay Brewer opens the special meeting at Dayton High School Wednesday night for needs assessment.