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Subs ask for rate increase to match five day week

The Lake Superior School District substitute committee sent a letter to the school board requesting the board amend the pay raise approved in August for the four-day week to match the rate of pay approved if the district returned to a five-day week at some time in the future.

The letter, penned by former William Kelley Schools biology teacher H. Michael Casper, says the current daily rate of $120 breaks down to $14.55 per hour and the hypothetical rate of $111 for a five-day week calendar breaks down to $15.48 per hour for substitutes, resulting in 93 cents per hour less for substitutes.

Casper's letter contends that substitutes were told they would a receive prorated amount for the four-day week when LSSD went to the schedule in 2010-11. The letter also says substitutes have been "penalized" on pay since the schedule was implemented and "no one ever checked the math" to ensure the rates were correct. The correct rate of pay, based on a $15.48 per hour rate, which would work out to $127.71 per day according to the letter's request.

"I never checked the math," Casper said. "That's what we had been told, it was prorated. Well, nobody ever checked the math. It was bad then, too. It should have been prorated from $98 to $112 the last four years, too."

LSSD superintendent Bill Crandall responded with a letter to the substitute committee saying the 13.2 percent daily rate increase approved by the board focused on the four-day week that is approved through 2020.

The district also provided a table detailing the history of substitute pay from 2009-10 to the current school year. The last year LSSD used a five-day schedule, substitutes were paid $85 per day and the rate was increased to $98 per day to for the four-day week, while the hours worked in a school day by substitutes increased from 7.17 hours to 8.25. The 15.3 percent increase in pay was slightly more, percentage-wise, than the 15.1 percent increase in the amount of time worked.

The two pay increases for substitutes since the initial jump from $85 per day to $98 were based on the four-day week and a daily, not hourly, rate. The personnel committee recommended the rate of $120 per day at a meeting attended by a number of substitutes, including Casper, in July and was approved by the full board at its August meeting.

After crunching the numbers of the rate approved by the board, the substitute committee saw the lower per hour rate and asked for the rate to be amended to a rate matching the broken down hourly rate of the five-day week.

Substitutes that work one hour in a day are paid $16.34 per hour, the same rate a current teacher receives if they use planning time to cover an additional class. If substitutes work more than one hour, they are either paid a half day rate of $60 for 2-4 hours worked or a full day rate of $120 for 5 or more hours worked.

The board sent the matter back to the personnel committee to determine what course of action, if any, is needed.

School board approves bond refinancing

The school board also approved a measure to go forward with refinancing the school building bond used to build the new Two Harbors High School in 2006. Michael Hart, a representative of Northland Securities, told the board refinancing the bond was projected to save the board $1.5 million over the remaining seven and a half years left on the bond.

Refinancing the bond will save the board a minimum of $1.3 million, with the potential discrepancy due to changes in federal interest rates. If the amount falls below the $1.3 million minimum, the board would need to approve a new resolution.

The bond is scheduled to be paid off in April 2023.

Board sets truth and taxation meeting

At the September meeting, the LSSD board set its truth and taxation discussion meeting for 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Two Harbors High School community room. The board set the preliminary levy at the maximum $724 per pupil, which is the amount set last year after special legislation allowed school boards to raise its levy without voter approval.

"That's pretty standard for most districts," Crandall said. "Unless they are doing something, they just set it at the max."

Board accepts three grants

The board accepted three grants at its meeting Tuesday: Cliffs Foundation made a $5,000 grant to the Two Harbors High School robotics team; Cooperative Light and Power granted $1,360 for adaptive physical education at Minnehaha Elementary School in Two Harbors; and North Shore Federal Credit Union gave $3,000 to the food backpack program at William Kelley Schools.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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