FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors approved three new contracts for three employee groups that had been working with expired contracts this year.

The board made the decisions Nov. 21.

The board approved a three-year contract with Food Service employees. The service is a separate, self-sufficient enterprise that is not included in the school budget.

The biggest challenge is the increase in minimum wage, Superintendent Tom Ward said.

The state’s minimum wage increased $1 an hour to $9 in 2017 and will increase to $10 in 2018, $11 in 2019 and $12 in 2020.

The new contract covers minimum wage increases and also tries to catch the workers up, Ward said.

Because they have been so underpaid, the board made the first-year wage increase the largest, he said.

The total amount the first year is $34,000 for 19 people.

The second year’s total increase is $13,889, and the third year’s is $9,428, Ward said.

The board also approved two-year contracts with the employees considered “at-will.” That covers staff members in the central office, technology workers, occupational and physical therapists, and social workers.

Ward is considered an at-will contract employee but has not requested or received a raise since he was hired five years ago at a salary of $122,000. He will continue at the same salary.

The increases stay within the 2 percent that was budgeted, Ward said.

In the first year, the increase ranges from 1.68 percent to 1.7 percent; and in the second year, from 1.7 percent to 1.71 percent, he said.

The third contract covers administrators. It is a two-year contract and provides a 1.5 percent increase in the first year and a 1.8 percent increase in the second year.

Adjustments were made to four individual contracts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 for employees who are the most below other district’s comparable positions.

Business Manager Kris Pottle will receive a $5,000 adjustment, Ward said.

Pottle has been with the district for 40 years, all in the central office. She has worked 30 of those years as business manager. Her current salary is $68,986 without the adjustment or raise.

“She is so underpaid it is embarrassing,” Ward said.

For school districts the size of RSU 9, business managers with her experience are making $10,000 to $15,000 more with staff support, Ward said.

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