I have talked to each of you quite a bit this month with all of the announcements about school cancellations and weather decisions. However, now that the snow has melted and the sun is shining, it has prompted me to take down my snowman wreath and be more interested in writing about better topics.
Legislative discussions regarding increasing teacher base pay currently have my full attention. Increasing teacher salaries and proposed changes to the AEA are coupled in the same bill, making it a more difficult conversation. I support the teacher salary part of the legislation if it is fully funded by the State, and I would note our district has made notable progress in increasing base pay for our teachers over the last several years. Increasing base pay for teachers is important because it helps districts attract new teachers and retain them once they enter the field of education. The way it is structured may cause districts to potentially need to rethink existing salary schedules that have been in existence for several decades. It may even be a bit of a challenge to accomplish. However, I am up for the challenge and would embrace the opportunity to work with the board and collective bargaining to find a reasonable and well-thought-out solution.
Speaking of teachers, I am very pleased we have been able to start to offer contracts to staff for next school year. We will be welcoming home Logan Hughes, a Shenandoah High School Alumn to teach Health and PE, and Amy Smith is joining us from Osceola, Iowa, to teach Special Education. It is a good place to be to start off the hiring season.
I was very pleased to read Mr. Burdorf's update this week. If you haven't read it yet, I think you should look through your email to find it. It included some of the preliminary FAST results. It is more than exciting to see the notable progress in the percentage of students who are proficient and are reaching their growth goal in reading. The students and staff are doing very good work, and they should be commended.