McAlester high school

McAlester High School.

An amended agreement is in place between McAlester Public Schools and the McAlester Association of Classroom Teachers.

The McAlester Board of Education approved amendments to an agreement with certified teachers that includes a teacher pay scale making starting base salary for McAlester teachers with a bachelor’s degree improved to $37,821 — $1,220 more than the state minimum — for the 2019-2020 academic year. Last year’s base salary for McAlester teachers with a bachelor’s degree was $36,601.

“We are where we are because of our people and we want to recognize that,” MPS Assistant Superintendent of Finance Chad Gragg told board members.

The budget Gov. Kevin Stitt signed in May earmarked $58.8 million for school districts across the state to receive $1,200 teacher pay raises on top of last year’s $6,100 average raise. The budget also includes $74 million for schools to hire additional staff, lower class sizes and pay for materials.

State legislators approved funding for teacher pay raises this year, but didn’t change Oklahoma’s teacher pay scale.

MPS teachers with a master’s degree and no experience are set to make $39,211 in base salary. McAlester teachers with a doctorate and no experience are set to make a base salary of $40,601.

One of the changes in the agreement was the buyback rate for unused personal business leave, which is now $70 per day and $35 per half day.

Another notable change was a sick leave sharing amendment that states:

“If an employee has reached their shared leave limit during their tenure as a district employee of 100 days, they may apply for additional days by submitting a formal letter of request to the Superintendent, asking the Board of Education to consider approving more than 100 days (5 years x 20 days) of shared sick leave. Criteria that will be taken into account will include, but not limited to: 1.) Frequency of previous shared leave taken 2.) Duration of employment with District, 3.) Duration of time since last leave request. Etc.”

Other changes included updating dates to the current academic year.

• Count growing: Assistant Superintendent Don Wise provided class counts for each campus during his report.

McAlester Public Schools has 3,136 total students, Wise told board members at the meeting. Last year’s MPS enrollment as of the Oct. 1 count reported to the Oklahoma State Department of Education was 3,053.

Board members were pleased to see growth in student enrollment from the previous year.

Wise gave the following head counts for the district.

• Jefferson Early Childhood Center — 192

• William Gay Early Childhood Center — 219

• Edmond Doyle Elementary — 173

• Emerson Elementary — 251

• Will Rogers — 413

• Parker Intermediate Center — 441

• Puterbaugh Middle School — 465 (2 at virtual Puterbaugh; one at Puterbaugh West)

• McAlester High School — 841 (49 at McAlester High East; 54 at virtual)

• Detention Center — 8

• Picking nits: Board member voted to approve changes to the school’s head lice policy.

The new policy added recommended treatments for active head lice or untreated nits, including application of over-the-counter pediculicide or medicated shampoo; machine wash and dry clothes and linens contacted by an infested individual; dry-cleaning non-washable clothing and bedding of an infested individual or placing those items in a sealed plastic bag for two weeks; and more.

Students with nits will only be readmitted to school after school officials verify treatment and no further evidence of lice, the policy states. It states an infested individual will be encouraged to continue treating nits and will be checked periodically to check for eggs hatching.

An amendment includes “Students missing more than two consecutive days of school for head lice may be considered truant and no more than two days will be counted as “Documented” for each occurrence.”

Contact Adrian O’Hanlon III at aohanlon@mcalesternews.com

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