07/07/04 — Schools seek compromise on teacher pay

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Schools seek compromise on teacher pay

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 7, 2004 2:12 PM

The Wayne County school board says it is prepared to make some cuts to its budget, but first wants assurances that the county commissioners will continue to pay recurring annual costs.

During a special meeting called Monday night in response to a recent budget mandate by the commissioners, the school board prepared its own budget proposal.

It said it would agree to make some cuts, but that it could not afford to make the full increase in the teacher supplemental pay required by the commissioners.

It did say that it could increase the supplement by 1.5 percent. The commissioners want a 3 percent increase.

Following a two-hour closed session with the board attorney, schools Superintendent Steven Taylor said the school system could not meet the "unfunded mandate" set forth by the commissioners without making drastic cuts.

Taylor read a statement from the school board after the closed session, and there was no other discussion.

The board said an estimated $1.7 million in cuts would be required to comply with the commissioners' edict.

The 2004-2005 budget request for the school system was approved on May 3 and forwarded to the commissioners, along with a request for a 5 percent increase in current expenses and approval of $1.5 million to fund a 2.5 percent increase in teacher supplemental pay.

On June 22, the commissioners voted to approve only $762,924, and they said it had to be applied toward a 3 percent increase in the teacher supplement, to 6.5 percent, for classroom teachers only.

The move was contingent upon the school board making cuts to fund more than $700,000 needed to meet the mandate.

Taylor said the board has not determined where cuts could be made to compensate for the 5 percent in additional funding that was not approved. "This request was to maintain current programs and personnel, understanding that $3 million in cuts, including 58 positions for the past two years, have not been restored," Taylor said.

He said that with the commissioners agreeing to fund $762,924 of a supplement increase for teachers, which totals $1.4 million, the Board of Education will have to make additional cuts of more than $700,000 and reallocate money to pay for the increase.

With the inclusion of certified support staff not included in the commissioners' action, the cuts actually come closer to $1.7 million, Taylor said.

In an effort to reach a compromise with commissioners, the board's proposal says the school system will cut $852,900 in exchange for an agreement from the commissioners to amend their budget ordinance request.

The commissioners are requested to amend their ordinance with regard to the additional 5 percent appropriation so that the Board of Education can provide a 1.5 percent supplement increase to certified personnel. That would bring the current 3.5 percent supplement to 5 percent.

Taylor said the board also wants a commitment from the commissioners that recurring annual costs will be funded, with attempts made to look at ways to increase local funding later.

"With cuts made by the Board of Education," Taylor said, "should local effort not increase beyond the normal 5 percent annual increase, programs and personnel negatively impacted for the next two years and current year would never be restored."