By Morgan Bryce
Opelika Observer

The Opelika City Schools Board of Education ratified two pay raise proposals in their meeting on Tuesday, a 4 percent raise that is applicable to both state and local employees.
According to details provided by Chief Financial Officer Chris Harrison, the raises will start at the beginning of each employee’s contract, running from July through September. The only person who will not receive a raise in Opelika’s educational system is Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors.
Information from the state of Alabama’s website indicates that state employees are almost certain to receive periodic raises, whereas local employees are at the mercy of the city in which they work. Harrison acknowledged that local employees “have gone quite a time” without a raise.
“We are doing three things. One, we are approving the 4 percent raise for all employees except me,” Neighbors said. “Item 13 (agenda) is to give the local folks who don’t get step raises – which are primary supports folks, but not all of them, principals are in that group too, and you had that list earlier – that is a recurring cost of about $239,000. And then, for one time only, to pay it beginning with the contract. We will be paying $182,000 to go ahead and start paying those raises effective as their new contracts roll in. It’s not retroactive. So after this year, that recurring for that local part of about $239,000.”
Thanks to a memorandum submitted by former Superintendent of Curriculum Brenda Rickett, the board voted to give employees who are hired through contract services an increase in their hourly wages, with tutors and other teaching work going from $22 per hour to $25 per hour, and clerical workers improving from $10.75 per hour to $12.25 per hour.
In other business, the board also:
– Renewed the contracts for principals Mary Patton, of Southview Primary, and David Carpenter of Jeter Primary, respectively.
– New board member Antione Harvis signed a Certificate of Affirmation, a contract of good will required by Alabama law.
– Approved a regular budget amendment.
– Approved delayed starting time for five school days during the upcoming school year.
– Approved a virtual program option policy.
– Approved renewal of membership with the Alabama Association of School Boards.
– Approved purchasing of materials from Beynon Sports Company for high school track project.
– Approved construction of high school track storage building.
– Rejected a bid from Whatley Construction for new windows for the Opelika Learning Center.
– Approved purchasing of culinary equipment for the high school.
– Approved a bid from Strickland Paper Products to provide paper for all city schools and main offices.