The Neosho R-5 Board of Education voted Monday to approve an estimated $374,144 in salary increases.
The bulk of the raises will impact classified staff, including district custodians, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and cooks.

Custodial staff will see the biggest increase, a 10 percent or 87-cent increase in base pay, bumping their hourly rate from $8.77 to $9.64 an hour.

Currently, the Neosho R-5 School District is among the lower paying districts in the area for custodial positions, with the Seneca R-7 School District paying $11.71 an hour and McDonald County R-1 paying $12.47.

Tim Crawley, Neosho’s assistant superintendent of business and finance, said the R-5 School District also pays benefits for classified positions.

Still, he said the district has seen high turnover in classified positions, particularly among custodians, and that the pay increase is intended to be more competitive with area schools.

“This was done to try and make sure that we can be competitive within the area, within our conference,” Crawley said. “We saw that there were significant areas where we were not. We have some fabulous employees at Neosho and we want to do everything we can to keep those employees.”

School board member Steve Douglas questioned if the 10-percent raise would be adequate for the district’s custodial staff, and asked why a 20 percent raise, bumping it to $10.52 was not considered.

“We are still way under being competitive, as I understand it, on the resignations we’ve lost five custodians in the last six weeks,” Douglas said. “I’m just concerned that being below $10 an hour is not competitive.”

Crawley said some area schools do not pay the amount of health insurance that the Neosho district does, and said the 10-percent raise was “at this time the most fiscally responsible.”

Shawn Dilday, director of buildings and grounds, said the 87-cent raise for custodial staff is a step in the right direction.

“I’ve been concerned with this salary schedule for several years,” Dilday said. “These folks are the people we trust that have keys and access to all parts of our buildings. We’ve got great custodians in the buildings and they’ve just been underpaid.”

Dilday said it has been difficult to attract and keep custodians due to the district’s base pay.

“I feel we need to be fiscally responsible for the entire district but would I like to see it $10.52? Yes,” Dilday said. “But I think this is headed in the right direction.”

In addition to the custodial raises, other classified staff will receive a 2 percent raise to their base salary, while bus drivers will see a spike in their trip pay.

Trip pay will be bumped from $8.15 per hour up to $10 per hour with a limit of 16 hours per day.

Bus drivers in the Seneca R-7 School District make $8.90 per hour, with up to 12 hours allowed in one day, while McDonald County pays $11.50 per hour, with up to 16 hours allowed in a day.

The increase in trip pay would have an estimated $10,000 impact.

The salary proposal also included an experience step for each certified and classified employee who has earned a step on their schedule, at an estimated cost of $244,144.

The board also approved $27,000 in administrative salary recommendations.