ALBION — Staff members at Central Noble Community School Corporation should expect their pay to increase soon.

The Central Noble Teachers’ Association agreed to a contract with the corporation to increase its base pay by $1,500 for the 2021-2022 school year and $1,700 for the 2022-2023 school year.

This year’s agreement will make the starting salary for teachers $38,500 for this school year. Starting teacher salaries will increase to $40,000 next year.

The top teacher salary will increase from $69,996 this year to $71,696 next year, an increase of 2.4%.

Staff benefits will remain the same along with annual leave. Health insurance premiums will be split with the corporation covering 69% and employees paying the remaining 31%.

What’s new in this year’s contract is an annual day buy-back program. This allows employees who have accrued a minimum of 25 sick days and up to 49 sick days on June 30 to sell them back up to five of that year’s days at $100 per day.

Employees who have accrued a minimum of 50 days of that year can choose to sell up to nine days at the same rate.

Any annual days remaining will be added as sick days.

The pay increase for this school year will begin on Nov. 25 and next year’s increase will start Aug. 25, 2022.

In other business, Superintendent Troy Gaff spoke to school board members about the current state of the school’s football field.

He told them that the field became flooded with water recently and that the field still remains very soft and wet.

He examined the field this week and said they will continue to evaluate its condition.

The corporation has recently seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases among students.

This past week, Central Noble saw nine new positive cases within the corporation, according to the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard.

Gaff said they have seen an approximate total of 65 positive cases among students this school year, three times the amount they had last year. Ten cases have been among staff.

The state health department reports Central Noble Junior/Senior High School has seen 29 positive cases total this school year, 10 at Central Noble Elementary and five or less cases at Central Noble Primary.

“Students have been impacted by this since they are out of school,” he said. “Since fall break is next week, most of those students will be back in-person since their quarantine period ends.”

Central Noble is still struggling with a shortage of bus drivers.

David Worman, Central Noble’s transportation director, told board members the corporation is OK for now, but if they lose any other drivers, they will be hurting.

The investigation into the stolen school bus is still ongoing.

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