“You all got raises!” Czerwinski exclaimed, and received a prolonged round of applause.
CFO Ron Wilson said teachers already on staff will receive a raise this year of $1,345 above what they made last year, while new teachers will get a raise of $1,335 above what they normally make.
“You have the school board to thank for that,” Superintendent Dr. Paul Clore said. “That’s who approved those raises.”
The new starting salary for a Gregory-Portland instructor will be $46,289 per year. Non-teaching employees received a 3 percent raise, while the school’s minimum wage rate of $7.36 per hour was raised to $7.60 per hour, Czerwinski said.
The district hired 66 new staff members - including 54 new teachers - for the upcoming school year. Czerwinski noted that the majority of those employees come with a considerable amount of experience.
“Of the 66 new professional employees, they had 437 years of experience,” she said. “Only 10 (teachers) are new to the teaching field. We hired our new hires because we were passionate about them, and they were passionate during their interviews.”
The increased pay and staff come at a time when the district is experiencing a period of growth.
“With our student growth exceeding our expectations, we’re trying to keep up with the community’s growth,” school board President Randy Eulenfeld said.
Noting the many accommodating changes being made to the district, Eulenfeld cited that the school has several projects under construction - including the new sports complex, the addition to Stephen F. Austin Elementary School, and the new East Cliff Elementary School - and drove his point home by continually singing the lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changin.’”
Staff recognized Melissa Franco de Gonzales for her Parents as Partners work. Franco de Gonzales is involved with the Parent Teacher Organization program, and is on the district’s science decision-making team. She said the school’s teachers, coaches, administrators and school board make her proud to be a Wildcat.
“You all are with our children the majority of the day,” Franco de Gonzales said. “Parents are counting on you to make responsible citizens out of our kids. But, there are parents out there who are willing to help. Being a PTO member, I can tell you parental involvement is key.”
Franco de Gonzales implored staff to work with the PTO to get parents more involved with volunteering at activities throughout the year, keep the school’s website updated with lesson plans, and make parents feel like they are part of the team.
Staff recognized the district’s Secondary Teacher of the Year, Lori Wilson. The district’s Intermediate Teacher of the Year, Amber Bright, recently left the school to accept a teaching position near her hometown.
“I accept this award on behalf of all the incredible teachers I’ve known along the way,” Wilson said. “Working with G-P is working with the best.”
Wilson said she has worked with junior high students for 23 years.
“It can be tricky business,” she said. “Good or bad, it’s how you look at things. Set high expectations, and go above and beyond for our students.”
Wilson works with a diverse group of students, including those in her adapted physical education class, which is for students with special needs. She said she recently taught a special needs student who had trouble hitting the ball off a tee.
“When she finally hit the ball, and it dribbled off the tee, teachers and students went wild,” Wilson said. “It was just like a walk-off home run.”