08/04/04 — County denies school request to appropriate money for supplemental pay

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County denies school request to appropriate money for supplemental pay

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on August 4, 2004 2:02 PM

The Wayne County commissioners denied a $762,924 request Tuesday from the Board of Education. They also said they would not appropriate the money until the board increased supplements for all classroom teachers.

The commissioners want the supplemental pay to be 6.5 percent, which is up from 3.5 percent. The cost to the school system is estimated to be $1.4 million.

"The number one problem in this county is the school system," said Commissioner Jack Best. "The teachers have got to be supplemented."

Other counties are offering higher supplements, and Best said 6.5 percent would be a little closer to where it should be. The school system has been losing teachers to nearby counties, he said.

The vote to deny the request for more money was unanimous.

The school board had asked for the additional money to increase teacher supplemental pay as a compromise to an earlier edict from the commissioners.

Dr. Steven Taylor, schools superintendent, wrote in a letter to County Manager Lee Smith that the school board has cut $3 million, including 58 positions, out of its budget for the past two years.

These positions have not been restored, and they are in the areas of elementary Spanish, media specialists, assistant principals, music, art, physical education, vocational and teacher assistants at every elementary school.

Taylor has also said that for the last four years, the school system has not received full funding from the state for being a low-income, or "low wealth," county. He said that has resulted in the loss of more than $1 million.

The commissioners have been demanding since June that supplemental pay for teachers be increased by 3 percent and paid for by the school system.

The $762,924 requested was never intended to be used for supplements, but to maintain programs and personnel, said Taylor.

Some commissioners have suggested that the schools have the money to pay for the supplements. They said that not increasing the pay could lead to the loss of the $762,924 that the county is scheduled to give the schools. Some questioned what the school administration is doing with the money.