Easton, Redding, Region 9 school boards approve central office budget

REDDING — The central office budget approved by the Easton, Redding and Region 9 school boards would increase employee salaries and create a new position in the human resources department.

The $1.74 million central office budget, which is nearly 6 percent more than the current year, still needs to be approved by the Easton and Redding finance boards. Region 9 acts as its own finance board.

Each district will pay nearly $581,000 to cover the central office costs, which translates to an increase of about $33,000 each. The budget is split evenly between the three districts because they share a central staff.

The spending plan includes about $58,000 for a new human resources position to handle benefits and help the human resources manager, who Superintendent Thomas McMorran has repeatedly said is overworked.

“I can’t adequately emphasize the amount of work that we expect of our HR department,” McMorran said, adding the department only has two employees now. Central office’s staff has remained steady overall, with a total of 12 employees.

McMorran said this number has been the same for at least 20 years.

Many board members supported the new position.

“I have a problem of just paying people more money to run faster when they’re already running as fast as they can,” said Region 9 Vice Chairman Paul Coppinger. “I would support more positions to help them.”

Several members were also in favor of increasing the salaries for the central office, including a 5.5 percent increase for the current HR manager. They agreed that person was doing a lot of work and still making less than her counterparts in the district reference group.

McMorran said the manager position was created years ago and prevents the person from making the same salary as a director or getting overtime if he or she works more than 40 hours.

Region 9 board member Mike D’Agostino disagreed the increase was necessary and added it was unfair to justify the salaries based on other districts in their group. “It’s not like we’re trying to squeeze and get more for paying less,” he said. “We have been giving big increases all along.”

He worried increasing the central office budget could translate into a cut in other parts of the school budgets, especially as Region 9 faces declining enrollment at Joel Barlow High School.

McMorran had initially proposed also adding a technology director to the central office to oversee the hardware and how to incorporate technology into the classroom, but decided to keep that position at Joel Barlow High School for now.

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