The same night that the Bozeman School Board will approve pay raises for 24 school administrators, the board is also scheduled to vote on returning to taxpayers $1.5 million, left over from the construction of Hyalite Elementary School.

An anonymous donation of $250,000 in stocks or cash -- to keep instructional coaches working with classroom teachers - is also on the agenda. The School Board meets at 6 p.m. in the board room of Willson School, 404 W. Main St.

Voters approved in 2007 a $17.5 million bond issue to build a seventh elementary school. Then the construction boom collapsed, and the school's construction cost turned out to be far less than estimated. The School Board returned $500,000 to taxpayers last year, but administrators and trustees said they wanted to wait on returning the rest until all construction bills were paid.

Another $300,000 is expected to be returned to taxpayers next year "when the project is complete." If so, that means the amount taxpayers are charged to pay off all school construction bonds will have been reduced by $2.3 million. By state law, the money can be used only for building and equipping the new school - not for other ongoing costs of operating the schools.

Administrators' base pay has been frozen for the last two years. Superintendent Kirk Miller is recommending principals, central office and other administrators receive a 1 percent salary increase and 1.5 percent increase in payments they receive instead of benefits. The changes would cost $32,314.

The pay raises are justified by inflation and the "increasing responsibilities, workload and time" administrators must put into running the district, Miller wrote.

Because of the recession, teachers agreed to zero increase in their base pay this year, but their pay will still increase by 3.1 percent on average. That's because teachers are getting paid for two additional days of professional training, plus the usual hikes up the pay ladder for gaining years of experience and taking classes to improve their teaching. Clerks and other non-teaching classified employees are also receiving a 3.1 percent average pay increase.

When benefits are added in, the average salary and benefit increases for next year will be 4.1 percent for classified employees and 3.7 percent for teachers. In addition, administrators have approved a 3.5 percent pay increase for the district's 36 professional employees, plus $52 a month instead of benefits, for a total increase averaging 4.5 percent.

School Board Chair Denise Hayman and Vice Chair Bruce Grubbs are recommending Miller, whose pay has been frozen at $130,000, receive the same increase other administrators are getting, plus a one-year extension of his contract to keep it a three-year contract.

The School Board is also scheduled to approve final construction changes in the $36 million reconstruction of Bozeman High, a three-year project that will finish up this summer. The changes are $95,000 to modify C-wing as the new home of the Bridger Alternative Program; $83,000 to create the Hawks Nest Early Learning Center in F-wing as a day care for Bridger students and district employees; $57,000 to fix up the old cafeteria; $51,000 to fix the South Gym floor; and $290,000 for paving parking lots around the school.

The entire 130-page agenda can be seen online at by clicking on district, board of trustees and agenda.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at or 582-2633.