Both certified and noncertified staff within the St. Clair R-XIII School District can expect larger paychecks later this year after the board of education approved a step salary increase.

The action came during the board’s March meeting.

The St. Clair school district is in the process of figuring out several items in relation to the 2013-14 budget, which will be approved before the new budget year begins July 1. Among those are adding staff to the district’s health insurance coverage plan in order to be in compliance with the national Health Care Reform Act, opting how to handle extracurricular activity compensation and doing its best to make sure salaries remain competitive in the area.

Superintendent Mike Murphy recommended an additional $158,000 be added to district certified and classified salaries to use for the step increase. He said the average employee in those classifications would see between a 1 and 3 percent hike with the average being about 1.5 percent.

Of the approved amount, $112,000 will go toward certified salaries and $46,000 to classified. The vote to provide the increase was unanimous.

There was also some discussion on raising the district’s base pay, but Murphy said he would like more information about funding levels from the state before considering a pay increase there. Currently, the minimum teacher salary in the district is $30,000.

The salary step movement was one of a few budget-related items the board discussed on March 14, but was the only decision made. Talk also centered on health care insurance and a capital expenses plan.

Health Plan

The school board is deciding how best to bring in all full-time employees under the district’s health insurance coverage, a requirement that is estimated to cost R-XIII up to $400,000 a year in additional expenses. That discussion has been going on for months.

In addition, during the March meeting, Murphy told board members that a 6.9 current monthly premium hike is expected, increasing that individual payment from $417 to $447 per employee. The school district picks up that tab.

“There are two levers to pull here,” Murphy said. “We have the insurance lever and the salary lever. It’s truly a challenge to decide how to pull these levers together.”

As far as capital expenses, Murphy said there are about $2.5 million worth of projects that need to be done, but he is leaning toward spending about $650,000 in 2013-14. Among the items discussed were technology upgrades, roofing repairs and paving needs.

“We’re prioritizing to get to that ($650,000) level,” Murphy told board members, adding he suggests the board might want to look at a three- or four-year rotation to address some of the other needs.

“We won’t have the funds to touch the $2.5 million in capital needs,” he said. “The challenge will be to sustain the programs and staff we have and take care of our basic needs in terms of revenue.”

Murphy said that about $750,000 to $800,000 will be spent on capital expenses in the current fiscal year.

Murphy said more decisions can be made when the district gets a better idea of how much state and federal money it will receive. Currently, he said he is expecting to receive about 93 percent of monies from the state funding model and maybe as much as 10 to 12 percent less as far as federal dollars.

County tax revenue is expected to be flat.