11/02/04 — Schools make cuts to give teacher raises

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Schools make cuts to give teacher raises

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 2, 2004 2:00 PM

The Wayne County school board has approved budget cuts of $876,802 to pay for teacher supplement raises.

No personnel, remediation or supplies had to be sacrificed from the school system, school officials said. And Eastern Wayne High School students will get new band uniforms.

The recommendations made Monday night had been first suggested publicly by the finance committee on Oct. 21. The cuts were part of a compromise with county commissioners.

Board member Thelma Smith is on the finance committee. She said the school board had taken bold steps early to try to find ways to give teachers a supplement increase.

"We asked our leadership team to find out for us what other surrounding counties were doing," she said. "Then we made recommendations to try to increase our supplement from 3.5 to 5 percent."

The commissioners countered an agreement to raise the supplement to 6.5 percent, but asked the school system to make up the difference through budget cuts.

When the administration and finance committee studied the situation, it was decided that some of the cuts could come from vacancies that had not been filled. Substitutes in many areas have been used, but money that had been budgeted for the certified and non-certified positions was still in place.

The projected amount for certified personnel vacancies came to $448,800; for non-certified staff, it accounted for $92,800.

The rest, $335,202, came from the school system's expansion budget, which had been proposed in February when increases seemed possible. Among the items removed or decreased are principal travel, postage, science kits, health textbooks, computer technology, a grant writer, and proposed extra funds for WorldView travel.

Band uniforms were also on that list. But "we were able to maneuver it so that we can get them, and at a cost savings of $8,000," said Nan Barwick, assistant superintendent for finance.

Dr. Sandra McCullen, associate superintendent for instruction, said the order for Eastern Wayne High's uniforms will go out today.

"It's their turn," she said Monday night.

She said the six county high schools are on a rotation list and are scheduled to get new uniforms every 10 years. The school system was two years behind in ordering them for Eastern Wayne.

A group of band members and parents who spoke at the October school board meeting shared concerns about threadbare and mismatched uniforms the award-winning band has had to wear.

Several board members also addressed misinformation circulating recently about the school system's budget.

Board Chairman Pete Gurley said the cuts haven't taken away from the things already in place. He also reiterated that no personnel were cut and said that vacant positions would be filled as soon as candidates could be hired.

Board member Rick Pridgen said the scope of the cutbacks went beyond just a school board decision.

"It was a collaborative effort from all the schools to play a part in that," he said. "We felt that no one knew better than the school themselves where they could do that."