JAY — Regional School Unit 73 directors Thursday night approved increasing the pay for all substitutes and bus monitors for the coming school year. This is the second year in a row raises were approved.

Substitutes with no degree will be paid $130 per day, an increase of $6 over last year and $39 more than two years ago. Those with two or more years of college will be paid $135 per day, an increase of $4 and $37, respectively. Those with a college degree will be paid $140 per day, an increase of $2 and $35, respectively.

Pay for substitutes with two or more years of college needed for extended periods will be $140 per day, an increase of $2 and $35, respectively. Those with a bachelor’s degree will be paid $165 per day, an increase of $6 and $39, respectively. Certified extended substitutes will be paid $221 per day, increases of $11.63 and $15.74, respectively.

“We are just trying to keep up, trying to balance out, stay close to what everybody else is doing in the area,” Superintendent Scott Albert said. “Looking at a couple positions, giving a little more than we have in the past because it is hard to find those substitutes. We have had a lot of substitutes for the past couple of years, times have changed drastically. By making a few of these corrections, I think we will stay in the ballpark where we need to be.”

Education technicians will be paid $115 for a six-hour day and $58 for a half day (3.5 hours or less), an increase of $3 and $2, respectively, over last year.

Pay rate changes from last year for other substitutes are: food service and secretary will increase $3 to $16 per hour; custodians and bus monitors increase $1 to $18; and bus drivers increase $1 to $21 per hour.

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Director Joel Pike asked if the increases were figured when putting the budget together.

“Yes,” Albert said. “We got nailed this last year for substitutes even when we figured in some of this stuff.”

“I think we all kind of expected this was a check valve that was going to ratchet,” Pike said. “It is good for the substitutes, good for the school. We’ve got to work through the numbers.”

Numbers will be determined by how many people are out, Albert said. “The number of substitutes needed because of COVID the last couple years, it was much bigger numbers,” he added.

“Despite that cost of expenses increase, there is a cost-of-living increase out in the community,” Director Patrick Milligan said. “Hopefully this does attract more folks that are willing to maybe earn a couple dollars extra per hour working in the district as opposed to maybe traveling out of the community, keeping them closer to home. Eighteen dollars per hour for being a bus monitor, that’s a pretty good deal.

“I like to see it even though it does cost us more money, but we need people,” he said.

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In other business, changes to the high school handbook were approved.

Principal TJ Plourde said he and his staff had looked at how they could help make the school safer and run a bit more smoothly.

The section on rank in class, grade point average and weighted grades was changed to weigh advanced placement courses at 10% and honors classes at 5%.

“In the past four to five years we have noticed that colleges are looking at the weighted grades and only giving certain scholarships to students with higher GPAs,” Plourde said. “Some of them go over 4.0 and some of our kids are not getting those scholarships … it has to do with the fact that the AP and honors courses we are offering are still at a lower percentage rate. This … will help our students as they get ready to start applying to colleges.”

Another change is students with last period classes in the middle school may bring their book bags to that class.

“Book bags is a safety issue,” Plourde said. Vaping, drug use and things like that are super easy to hide. Right now kids can carry their bags in the hallways. We want to make sure they are using their lockers, (bags) aren’t in bathrooms and classrooms. It just helps us as we start to police that type of thing.”

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Locker location could be an issue for some students, especially seniors who have theirs in the hallway, Ava Coates, student representative to the board, said. She said it was often easier to carry everything with her and that vapes could easily be hidden in pockets.

“It comes down to search laws,” Plourde said. “When we search and have dogs come in, we can’t search students with the dogs.”

Coates suggested providing more time between classes and having teachers dismiss classes on time.

Director Tasha Perkins asked if purses would be allowed because girls like to carry personal hygiene products in them. She also wondered about boys’ reactions if purses were allowed.

“I hear you,” Plourde said.

Director Phoebe Pike suggested an addendum for students with individualized education plans.

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Plourde said an addendum isn’t needed as those plans take precedence. He said having an addendum for those students would identify, single them out.

Cellphones will no longer be allowed to be used in classrooms, although they may be used during cafeteria time and in the hallways.

“In the past two years we kind of let it go because of COVID and kids were using them a lot more,” Plourde said. “Now they are using them too much. The idea is less time on their devices and more time on the devices we provide.”

Joel Pike wanted to be sure the new cellphone guidelines would not preclude use by students that are required to have them for medical purposes.

Footwear with wheels will not be allowed.

“Wheelies are back,” Plourde said. Two or three kids this year had them, he noted.

“Kids really do a pretty decent job, come dressed appropriately,” Plourde said. “If they don’t then we address it and they fix it really quick, maybe turn a T-shirt inside out. There are no consequences.”

There are a couple of things concerning the handbook that will be looked at over the summer, such as the new policy regarding visitors to schools, Plourde said. “I can change, do things at the end of summer,” he noted. “This just gets us ahead.”


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