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story.lead_photo.caption Superintendent Kevin Hillman discusses an agenda item while board members Todd Mealy, right, and Stephanie Laney listen during the South Callaway R-2 Board of Education meeting Wednesday night at the high school in Mokane. Photo by Ryan Boland / Fulton Sun.

MOKANE — The South Callaway R-2 Board of Education unanimously approved the school district's non-certified wage scale for the 2021-22 school year Wednesday during its regular meeting.

The base salaries for building custodians and secretaries are now $23,200 and $19,400, respectively, on the pay schedule, which includes 31 steps. District cooks and paraprofessionals received a pay bump to $11.15 per hour for the upcoming school year.

Superintendent Kevin Hillman noted during Wednesday night's meeting school districts are exempt from paying minimum wage, but pointed out South Callaway has always worked to either meet or exceed that standard.

Missouri's minimum wage is currently $10.30 an hour and will go up to $11.15 next Jan. 1.

"This doesn't blow up our budget and we're able to give some pretty good (pay) numbers, and I'm comfortable with those," Hillman told board members. "We want to pay our workers well and give them good increases.

"We try really hard to be really competitive for what the market pays for other schools."

The board gave Hillman the OK to increase the hourly pay for summer maintenance workers — up to 600 hours — from $10.50 to $11.15, also falling in line with the minimum wage.

During a budget update, Hillman mentioned to board members an additional round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds will be coming in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's really been an all-year struggle on what you can and can't do with those funds," Hillman said. "There's been an angry push between schools about where that should and shouldn't be.

"You can imagine the catfight that's going on about what's fair and not fair. There's going to be a lot of language, and a lot of it heated — it's really developing fast."

Under new business Wednesday night, the board reorganized after the results of the April 6 municipal election. Incumbent Micah Benningfield and newcomer Caleb Bartley were both sworn in.

"As the administrators here know, for any school board, behind the scenes there are some tough things to do, but it's rewarding," Hillman said. "We end one chapter and start anew."

Outgoing board member Brent Woods was honored for his 15 years of service. First elected in 2005, Woods is tied with three former members — Susan Ward, Jim Meyer and Bruce Meyer — for the longest tenure on the board.

"I want to say that I've appreciated the opportunity to serve the South Callaway district," Woods said. "We've had our ups and downs, but overall it's been great. I don't think I would trade it for anything."

Members Todd Mealy and Sharon Frazee were appointed to another term as board president and vice president, respectively.

Also in new business, the board authorized Tucker Bartley — South Callaway's director of technology — to seek bids to upgrade the district's phone system, replace the data center storage and backup equipment, and upgrade the equipment in the boardroom.

Board members also approved Hillman to seek annual pricing and bids for the district's fuel and food-service items.

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