An agreement approved Thursday by the Joplin Board of Education will result in pay increases next year for certain support staff.

The board unanimously approved the agreement that was negotiated this spring between school district officials and the Joplin Education Support Professionals, the bargaining union representing full-time and regular part-time custodians, building engineers, bus drivers, bus aides and maintenance employees, excluding supervisors and guards.

Implementing the agreement, which will last for two years, will cost the district $177,067, to come from the fiscal year 2020 operating budget. District officials said all eligible employees in the collective bargaining agreement will receive an increase in pay and advance a step on the salary schedule.

A representative of the union said the agreement was unanimously ratified over the weekend by more than half of voting members.

"Our goal is a common goal of the district, which is to make this the employer of choice" in the area, said Charles Virgin, a custodian for the school district and vice president of the union. "As a union, we want to keep our personnel here."

The board last week approved a similar negotiated agreement with the Joplin National Education Association, the union that represents teachers, counselors and librarians. As a result of that agreement, all employees in the collective bargaining unit will see a raise of between $1,400 and $2,000 next year, and eligible employees will advance a step on the salary schedule.

In other business Thursday, the board authorized more than $89,000 for the second year of a three-year contract with Northwest Evaluation Association, a tool that the district has used for four years to monitor student progress.

The Portland, Oregon-based program provides assessments in reading, language, math and science. Joplin students are given those assessments in the second through 11th grades, with younger students tested as deemed necessary.

"We continue to see growth as we use this tool to guide instruction," district officials said in documentation prepared for the board. "Principals and teachers are using and interpreting the results of the assessments with a greater level of comfort and will continue to dig deeper for intervention needs."

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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