Highland News Leader

Raises approved for Highland school administrators

The Highland School Board approved salary and hourly wage increases for several administrators, non-contractual employees and contract employees at its meeting May 22.

Most district administrators will receive 2.45 percent raise for the 2017-2018 fiscal year and an increase of 2.55 percent for the following fiscal year. The raises are consistent with the average increases approved in the recent agreement with the Highland Education Association, the district’s teachers union.

Those employees and their current base salaries are:

▪ Derek Hacke, assistant superintendent for instruction, $122,056.58

▪  Tim Bair, district business manager, $138,389.33

▪ Chris Becker, Highland High School associate principal, $94,838.14

▪ Caleb Houchins, Highland High School associate principal/athletic director, $71,197

▪ Erick Baer, Highland Middle School principal, $88,498.33

▪ Liz Weder, Highland Middle School assistant principal/athletic director, $68,000

▪ Lori Miscik, Highland Elementary School principal, $87,959.66

▪ Susan Brauns, Highland Elementary School assistant principal, $78,296.63

▪ Julie Korte, Highland Primary School principal $96,623.03

▪ Anne Hickey, Highland Primary School assistant principal, $80,427.51

▪  Pam Tyler, director of special services, $82,821.51

▪ Jeff Williams, director of buildings and grounds, $107,707.33

▪ Matt Fredericksen, chief educational technology officer, $89,945.04

▪ Jeff Kopsic, information system manager, $63,369.31

Exceptions to the aforementioned raise structure were Cindy Tolbert, the principal at both Alhambra Primary School and Grantfork Elementary School, Superintendent Mike Sutton and Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen.

Tolbert will receive a 7.58 percent wage increase for the 2017-2018 fiscal. Tolbert’s current base salary is $66,000.

“Given her experience and responsibilities, the board felt an adjustment was appropriate,” Superintendent Mike Sutton said.

Sutton, whose current base salary is $150,068.02, will also be receiving a 2 percent increase for both fiscal years, while Highland High School Principal Karen Gauen will experience a 6 percent raise for the two years. Sutton and Gauen’s raises are both part of contractual agreements. Gauen’s current base salary is $103,976.82.

Four non-contractual hourly employees were also approved for 60-cent raises for both fiscal years. Those employees, with their current pay rates, are:

▪ Alicia Farris, technology specialist, $17.04 per hour

▪ Kim Reckman, Alhambra Primary School Latchkey director, $15.45 per hour

▪ Alyssa Duffin, bookkeeper, $17.43 per hour

▪ Monica McCall, assistant bookkeeper, $12.50 per hour

The hourly wage increases for these employees follow step schedules approved for administrative assistants and for Higher Education Strategic Planning Association secretaries.

Other business


The school board approved two resignations:

▪ Stephanie O’Brien, school nurse at Highland High School. O’Brien was hired in February 2017 but has accepted another position.

▪ Kristie Simmons, World Youth in Science and Engineering coach at Highland High School.

New Personnel

The school board approved the following new personnel:

▪ Alison Lanman is the new custodian at Highland High School, effective May 1, 2017.

▪ Tyler Jewell will be the new assistant band director and the elementary music/elementary band teacher at Highland High School, Alhambra Primary School and Grantfork Elementary School.

▪ Holly Mueth will be the school nurse at Highland High School.

Coaching and sponsors approved

The board approved a master list of coaches and sponsors for the district. The list is used to set employment of all coaches and sponsors. The list is kept throughout the year to track changes in coaching and sponsoring positions, such as new employment and resignations. If coaching or sponsor spots open or if slots are filled within the list, specific board action is required.

Highland High School coaching list changes are as follows:

▪ Steve Lanxon, junior varsity football coach

▪ Brendan Delaney, volunteer football coach

▪ Colby Reilson, volunteer football coach

▪ Butch Zobrist, volunteer football coach

▪ Austin Welz, freshman and sophomore football coach

▪ Katelyn Hagarty, volleyball coach

▪ Kristin Torre, assistant volleyball coach

▪ Anastacia Harrell, band color guard leader

▪ Clint Hamilton, assistant girls basketball coach

▪ Brett Pollard, freshman and sophomore girls basketball coach

▪ Glenn Nicholls, volunteer girls softball coach

▪ Natalie Goodin, volunteer girls softball coach

▪ Dave Giger, assistant boys track coach

Highland Middle School coaching list changes include:

▪ Billy Sullivan, boys basketball coach

▪ Jody Durbin, assistant girls basketball coach

Highland High School club and sponsor position changes include:

▪ Andrew Gibb-Clark, volunteer cabaret, jazz choir and compensated for director of choruses and ensembles, director of madrigal

▪ Tyler Jewell, assistant director of bands and ensembles, director of summer band

▪ Suzanne Michael Himsel, Model UN, National Honor Society sponsor

▪ Sarah Bland, Scholar Bowl

Highland Middle School clubs and sponsor list changes:

▪ Dena Geiger, Math Team coach

▪ Fiona Abbott, Model UN co-sponsor

▪ Stephanie Schwappach, Scholar Bowl co-sponsor

▪ Mecala Scholl, Student Council sponsor

▪ Andrew Gib-Clark, swing choir

High School department chairperson changes:

▪ John Case, Fine Arts Department chairperson


▪ High school girls track coach

▪ World Youth in Science and Engineering (WYSE) club advisor and 6th Content Area coach

▪ High school productions, manager of ticket sales and publicity

▪ High school assistant girls track coach

▪ Middle school intramural stipends

▪ Middle school Junior Science Olympiad sponsor

▪ Middle School summer band co-director

Appointment approval

The board appointed Jody Harrison to serve on the board of directors for the Jill Frey Memorial Scholarship.

Harrison will serve a three-year term on the board of directors. Each year the school board receives recommendations from the board of directors and the school board is required to appoint the members to their terms.

Other Jill Frey Memorial Scholarship board members include, Janet Renko, Robert Sudhoff, Jeff Frey and Superintendent Mike Sutton. The scholarship had been awarded to a student every year since 1991.

School activity account approved

The school board approved the creation of a student activity account for the Highland High School Banner account.

New banners have been placed on the lights poles on Toxler Avenue. The banners show Highland High School achievements from various clubs and athletic organizations.

“It looks really sharp,” Sutton said.

The account will be used to keep track of proceeds used for maintaining the banners. Donations toward this upkeep will be put into the account for future maintenance and replacement.

Board president reads a vision statement

At the end of the board meeting, the newly elected board President Jim Gallatin read a vision statement outlining where he would like to go in the next four years. Gallatin said his statement was inspired by his newfound office and that he hopes it can help give the board some direction for the future.

Gallatin said that he sees vision as a plan to steer the ship in a productive direction, while laying the groundwork for growth. He also mentioned that the board will have the difficult task of overcoming “unprecedented fiscal limitations” while attempting to make change, without any anticipated help from the state or federal level.

“This means that we need to circle the wagons and find ways to grow through our own efforts,” Gallatin said.

Gallatin emphasized that the district’s future is greatly tied to the growth of Highland. Because of this, he stated that the board needs to utilize its resources to help enhance the community and draw people to the district, which will help to grow the local tax base through residency, business, agriculture and industry. To do this, Gallatin said the district would need to identify the strengths of the community and use those strengths to create an advantage over other school districts.

“Give our youth good reasons to stay here and others good reasons to move here,” Gallatin said. “We need to offer our students opportunities that our competitors cannot provide. It is not enough to simply do the same things that they do, only better. That’s not a good enough reason to drive an extra 60 miles everyday. We need competitive advantages.”

Hearing for amended budget set

The board approved amendments made to the education, capital projects and working cash fund sections in the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget.

According to the District Business Manager Tim Bair, the district is required to amend the budget when expenditures are expected to go over the budgeted amounts. Additional budgeted expenditures were increased by about $119,000, which caused the district’s find balance to be exceeded.

Bair said this is a result made from several factors. First, district administration added $53,750 worth of band uniforms and equipment to the budget in October after it was initially approved. He said that the district also had two additional students placed in private facilities, costing $52,000.

Bair also admitted that he accidentally omitted the $8,900 pension benefit line for district tech directors and the district added some extra teacher salary (RTI) hours to the budget totaling $4,125.

Bair said he is hopeful the district can make up the deficit somewhere else in the budget, but if that is not the case, he worked in a $50,000 loan from the district’s working cash fund. However, he said if the loan is not needed, it will not be made.

The budget amendments also reflect an additional $1.75 million in the capital projects section, due to the district incurring more expenditures before the end of the year that were not anticipated. These added costs to the budget include the Highland Middle School roofing project and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) project. These projects were moved so that the district could take advantage of better pricing and available energy grants, Bair said.

Bair said that the district will need to adopt the budget resolution soon, so the School Board approved a public hearing that will regard the budget amendments. The amended budget has also been put on display for the public.

The hearing will take place June 26, which will be the same meeting the amended budget is adopted.

Name change approved

The board approved a name change of a Highland High School account from the Social Committee account to the Climate/Culture account. The name change was requested by the high school.

Building handbooks approved

The board made its yearly approval of the building handbooks for the 2017-2018 school year. The packets were reviewed and updated within the school buildings and on the district level.

During the meeting, board member Robert Miller complimented the work that was put into updating the handbooks. He noted specific updates in the college career sections and the expanded academic integrity section in the Highland High School handbook.

“It’s very comprehensive,” Miller said.

Policy first readings

The board had its first reading phase for 12 board and district policies that have been updated to coincide with state and federal regulations. All of the policies will continue on to a second reading. If the board finds the policies suitable at that time, they could be approved.

According to Superintendent Mike Sutton, no major changes were made to any of the policies.

The policies included in the first reading are as follows:

▪ 2:100 School Board, Board Member Conflict of Interest

▪ 3:70 General School Administration, Succession of Authority

▪ 4:15 Operational Services, Identity Protection

▪ 4:180 Operational Services, Pandemic Preparedness

▪ 5:70 General Personnel, Religious Holidays

▪ 5:80 General Personnel, Court Duty

▪ 5:120 General Personnel, Employee Ethics Conduct and Conflict of Interest

▪ 5:230 Professional Personnel, Maintaining Student Discipline

▪ 5:285 Educational Support Personnel, Drug Alcohol Testing for School Bus and Commercial Vehicle Drivers

▪ 5:300 Educational Support Personnel, Schedules and Employment Year

▪ 6:70 Instruction, Teaching About Religions

▪ 7:100 Students, Health, Eye, and Dental Examinations; Immunizations; and Exclusion of Students