The Bozeman School District will give modest pay raises this year to virtually all its employees - except Superintendent Kirk Miller.

The School Board voted 7-0 Monday night to approve a 2.1 percent increase in pay and benefits for 250 bookkeepers, paraprofessional classroom aides and other classified employees. In addition, the board OK'd a 1.8 percent base-pay increase for about two dozen principals and administrators. Teachers had already won a 2.1 percent increase in their pay and benefit package.

Board Chair Denise Hayman said that Miller offered to take no pay raise this year because of the economy, something she couldn't recall any superintendent doing in her 12 years on the board. She told Miller the School Board trustees are "most grateful for your leadership and your sensitivity."

"Kirk works very hard for the district," Hayman said after the meeting. "He deserves a salary increase without a doubt. He was highly sensitive to comments from the community and ... he wanted to reflect their concerns."

Miller, who earns $131,300, said he has heard comments from people in the community about their struggles with the economic recession and their frustrations with people in government who have been taking raises anyway.

"I ended up taking that literally," Miller said. "This is just a year it needs to be held at that level ... recognizing the downturn."

The board did vote to extend Miller's contract for one more year, making it a three-year contract. The agreement with the Bozeman Classified Employees Association will cost $140,000 and the principals' and administrators' pay hike is expected to cost $46,550, or 2.1 percent, because some newer administrators get increases for up to 10 years of service.

In other action Monday, the School Board:

--Heard an emotional apology from Jerry Perkins, owner of Karst Stage bus company, for the June 3 incident in which two bus drivers were arrested for alcohol levels over legal limits while driving Sacajawea Middle School students on a field trip in Yellowstone National Park. Perkins said with a quavering voice that he was "deeply humbled and embarrassed" and "I apologize from the bottom of my heart." Karst is reviewing all its hiring and training procedures and will work with school administrators to come up with new standards, he said. "The safety of our children is paramount."

--Voted to approve a $238,908 contract with the nonprofit THRIVE, which runs the CAP mentor volunteer and Parent Liaison programs for the school district. The contract is paid for with general fund and federal dollars.

--Approved spending $80,000 to keep two Bozeman police officers working in the schools as school resource officers. Federal funds that used to pay for the program have been eliminated, so the district is using general fund money. The officers help with drugs and other criminal issues in the schools.

--Approved spending $564,000 to repair leaking and hail-damaged roofs at Bozeman High, using money left over from the $36 million school expansion bond issue.



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