Fort Scott Community College employees will start noticing an increase in their paychecks beginning July 1, after receiving no incentives last year.
The raise is the result of a collective bargaining agreement between the college's Board of Trustees and Fort Scott College Association of Professional Employees, or FS-CAPE, the group representing the faculty.
The board approved the two-year accord Feb. 8 for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school year. It goes into effect on Sunday.
The pact, which took more than six months to reach and included impasse and fact-finding stages, gives about 52 faculty members and counselors one step movement and $500 to their base salary. A step within the college's salary schedule is contingent on years of experience and education.
Faculty who retired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year were also eligible for the raise under the agreement, "payable prior to their last day of employment in 2012," according to an email FSCC President Clayton Tatro sent to FS-CAPE President Elie Riachi in January.
Staff will receive a 1.59 percent increase to their base pay, plus an additional $500 added to their salary. Both situations -- affecting a total of 163 employees -- equates to a 3 percent raise for faculty and staff. Neither group got a raise or step during the 2011-2012 school year and won't from the new contracts.
"We felt very good about the offer this year," Tatro said. "We felt like it was fair and equitable with the new state funding ... We want to take every opportunity to pass along dollars that come our way."
Tatro represented the college during the negotiations, along with Dean of Student Services Steve Armstrong, Dean of Instruction Donna Estill, Dean of Finance and Operations Karla Farmer and board representative Jim Fewins.
The salary increase will cost the college approximately $81,190 and another $60,000 for the faculty increases at the agreed upon amount. Federal and state grants will fund an additional $25,000.
"Personnel changes" around the college are in motion to help alleviate costs associated with the raises, Tatro said, with some positions being consolidated or going unfilled. He said it will be "nothing like" a couple years ago when 10 spots were eliminated because of budget constraints.
"We have worked hard to make sure the college is fiscally responsible," Tatro said. "We would not have felt comfortable to make the offer we did if we didn't know we would be in a better position this year than last year."
College administrators are banking on state funding to cover the cost-of-living adjustment for their employees, rather than having to turn to Bourbon County taxpayers. The local mill levy rose 2.4 mills last year.
Nothing can guarantee the mill levy won't go up again this year. Budget workshops are scheduled starting next month, Tatro said.
The state doled out about $3 million to FSCC last year and administrators are hopeful they'll get $3.3 million for the coming year.
Faculty representative Jeff Locke called the hikes "modest," saying it's better than nothing.
"Originally they offered no raise, but after going to a fact-finding stage we agreed on the two-year contract and a little bit of a raise and we keep our state health plan," Locke said.
However, the final agreement didn't please everyone.
Only two-thirds of the faculty approved of the contract, Riachi said, and some rejected it.
"We took a vote on this and there were faculty members who rejected it because it was not acceptable reasoning," he said. "It was that, again, inequality between administration and faculty. If there is no money, then there is no money for everyone."
Riachi said the situation is a "win-win" for everyone, despite the low approval rating among his colleagues. He said he wasn't disappointed, although it wasn't exactly what he was hoping for.
"You don't always get what you want and sometimes you have to meet in the middle," Riachi said. "We feel OK about it. You know, actually what we wanted was that we get a step for 2011-12 and 2012-13. But it's a compromise on both sides."
Faculty and staff technically worked without a contract during the recent school year because the contract wasn't out until the end of spring semester.
Contract negotiations for the 2013-2014 school year will begin in February.
Riachi said his hopes for the next round of negotiations are complete transparency and "sincerity, honesty and fair play." He said conversations in the past have lacked those elements.
"That's how we feel," Riachi said. "Whether we're correct or not ... that's kind of the consensus and atmosphere among faculty. At least that's what I hear."