Hastings Public Schools

Hastings Public Schools

Classroom teachers will receive a 4.25% increase to their base salary for the 2022-23 academic year under a settlement approved by a 9-0 vote of the Hastings Board of Education at its regular monthly meeting Jan. 10 at Hastings Middle School.

Board President Jim Boeve said the settlement represents a larger-than-usual increase in salary over recent years, reflecting the district’s desire to compensate teachers for working through difficult times.

The 4.25% increase will serve as a base figure for other staff salary negotiations for paraeducators and other classified staff, he said.

“Traditionally we will do certificated staff first,” he said. “That kind of sets the wheels in motion for everything else. It is probably a little bigger increase in percent than what we’ve had in recent years, but it’s been a hard year for teachers.

“They are doing a lot of work that they didn’t necessarily know they were going to be doing a few years ago, and they’re doing a great job for us. We felt that was an appropriate act on our part.”

In other matters, the board voted unanimously to approve monthly expenditures totaling $4,060,755. Also by unanimous vote, the board approved the addition of full-time class size reduction teacher positions at Alcott and Lincoln elementary schools.

Board members voted 9-0 to approve the addition of two Hastings Middle School garden sponsors, increasing the number from one to three. Now in its 10th year, the garden has become a community-wide project involving community, staff and students in an educational venture not otherwise possible in the public school system.

“This is a significant increase in adults that are going to take care of these things,” HPS Superintendent Jeff Schneider said. “They’re already doing it, and they’ve proven over time that this thing is here to stay. It’s a great thing for so many kids, and it’s a great thing for our community.”

In this month’s spotlight segment, Longfellow Elementary Principal Irina Belikova Erickson shared success stories from the school’s new reading instruction program. The fledgling program emphasizes small-group instruction, utilizing repetition, phonetic awareness and reading fluency to teach youngsters how to read.

“This is not a popular program because it’s a lot of work,” Schneider said. “It takes everyone to make this happen. We’re getting results, and it’s not going away.”

The new reading program is paid for through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding provided by the Nebraska Department of Education.

In public hearing comments, Wendy Keele, an HPS childhood learning program director, invited board members and the public to attend an early childhood education documentary film, “No Small Matter,” to be shown at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Jan. 20 at Hastings Museum.

A concerned mother asked board members to restore stocking of feminine products in the girls’ restrooms at Hastings Senior High following their removal because of incidents related to a TikTok Challenge posed in October on the online social media site. The challenge led to products being used to vandalize bathroom walls.

Schneider collected the mother’s contact information for additional discussion of the matter.