Houston to give raises, buy buses

1STOCK UPDATE Education School BusesHOUSTON – The district’s non-certified employees and administrators will get raises and the Houston School District will buy buses following a vote by trustees Monday night.

The raises will come from the district’s fund balance and total $61,412. Buses are estimated to cost about $75,000 each, with the district seeking up to seven, and they will be financed by bonds or a loan to the district.

The district’s certified employees or teachers were given a $2,500 raise to be implemented over the next two years by the Mississippi Legislature and that legislation was signed by Gov. Phil Bryant late last month.

Houston Superintendent Dr. Steve Coker pointed out the district has not given raises in several years and these across-the-board pay increases are needed. Non-certified employees include cafeteria workers, office personnel, maintenance and custodial workers.

The raises will see $39,850.48 allocated to non-certified employees and $21,562 going into the paychecks of district administrators.

“I don’t have to tell you how important these non-certified personnel are to the education process,” said Coker at a meeting last week. “I wanted to present you with this information and give you time to look at it before you vote.”

At Monday’s meeting the district was reminded they have $200,000 in reserve in this year’s budget for attorney fees related to ongoing legal action with the Vo-Tech roof, and another $400,000 in reserve to fix the roof if litigation fails. Coker pointed out the district will be creating a new budget in two months.

The district was also told a check of six area district found them giving raises to non-certified personnel in the 2- to 3-percent range.

The motion to grant the 3 percent across-the-board raise for administrators and non-certified personnel was made by Trustee Carol Byrne and seconded by Trustee Bart Munlin. Trustees Marvin Beard and Board President Daniel Heeringa supported it. Trustee Thomas Howell was absent from Monday’s meeting.

The district will also hire bond attorneys to handle the process of purchasing up to seven new buses for the district and seek bonds of up to $525,000 to purchase the vehicles.

Houston has not bought any new buses in eight years. The state recommends buses be replaced after 10 years or after so many thousand miles for safety reasons. Many of Houston’s buses are past that 10-year window.

Houston Assistant Superintendent Chad Spence said the plan is for two buses to be allocated for band and sports trips; two buses be used for city routes and the remaining buses be inserted on routes as needed.

“This purchase will allow us to retire six of our 1995 buses,” said Spence. “Purchasing new buses will also reduce our maintenance expense for our fleet.”

No action was taken on this agenda item and the district will now contact a bond attorney who will bid the buses, obtain bond bids and return to the board for a formal vote. The details of the bond financing package will be posted as a legal notice in the Chickasaw Journal.

Trustees were told they should have the bond package presented to them in June, allowing the buses to be purchased and delivered this fall.


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