Alma School District teachers and staff will receive both a base pay raise and incremental raise beginning this school year.

During their regular meeting held Tuesday night, Alma School Board members approved a proposal by Superintendent David Woolly to increase the teacher base salary by $300 and the annual incremental raise by $30, as well as a 1.6 percent pay increase for classified employees and all others.

This is the first time the school district has increased the incremental raise in about 10 years, Woolly said. This increase brings the annual incremental raise from $420 up to $450.

“Our starting salary is fairly competitive statewide,” Woolly said. “Where we’re not as competitive is in our mid and upper level salary schedule.”

Each employee will receive this year’s pay increase as a lump sum in a check before Christmas. In addition to the $300, teachers will get an additional $30 for each year of experience.

Total cost to the school district to provide the pay increases with benefits is about $300,000, Woolly said. Last year the school district gave a base pay increase of $600.

Woolly said the staff “played a big part in putting this money in their own pockets” by restricting their spending. Growth in the district also contributed to the ability to provide pay increases, he said.

Woolly is committed to have a competitive salary schedule, he said. He hopes to continue to increase the incremental raise over the next several years, he said.

“There’s nothing more important to the education of our students than having quality teachers,” Woolly said, “and there’s nothing more important to maintaining those teachers than compensation.”

Woolly announced the raise increase to teachers and staff on Wednesday in a video he sent out by email.

Board members approved the purchase of five new buses during the Tuesday meeting. The district is purchasing the buses as part of a rebate program offered by the Environmental Protection Agency.

As part of the program, the EPA will pay up to 35 percent of the costs for the new buses, but the school district must be replacing old buses to qualify, Woolly said.

“To prove we are replacing buses, we had to show that we are drilling holes in the engine blocks so that they can never be used again,” Woolly said.

ASD purchased at least five new buses earlier in the year with the rebate program.

Also during the school board meeting on Tuesday, several parents spoke during the public comment section to request “corrections” to previous exams administered in a pre-AP high school history class, which the parents said had questions that were confusing and too difficult for students to understand.

While it seemed school administrators had addressed the issue with the class teacher, making changes to current and future exams, the parents wanted to see changes made to past exam scores.

Board members heard from three separate parents, and advised that their comments would be taken into consideration and addressed at a future board meeting if necessary.

Christmas break for the school district begins Dec. 15 at the end of the regular school day.