Teacher pay drives proposed budget increase

An increase in school funding for Fiscal 2018-19 is earmarked for pay raises, according to the Patrick County Public Schools preliminary budget proposal.

The proposal will be presented to the Patrick County School Board during its 6 p.m. meeting on Thursday, March 8.

The more than $31 million total budget holds the line on adding staff, increases teacher pay, and includes an overall funding increase of $497,670, or 1.6 percent, over the current fiscal year.

The step pay raise for teachers accounts for more than half, or $252,903, of the proposed increase, with the remaining portion of the increase — $244,767 – due to an increase in the debt service from a loan that was refinanced, budget documents show.

According to budget documents, the goal is to improve salaries of personnel throughout the division.

“In recent years, our salaries have not been regionally competitive, and we have seen a loss of employees,” partly because of higher salaries in other divisions – both in and out of state – combined with a lower cost of health insurance, the document stated.

“This preliminary request was necessary in order to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and staff that can meet the specific needs of our students. Without good teachers and staff, improvement is impossible. It is time to restore the competitiveness of our employees,” the document stated.

State code requires the division to present the proposal to county officials on or before April 1.

Schools Superintendent Bill Sroufe said his goal was to complete the proposal as quickly as possible in hopes of helping teachers feel secure.

Currently, he said it is difficult to recruit teachers, and “the quicker I can get a contract to our teachers, the more secure they’ll feel.” He noted that contracts were distributed by some competing school divisions at a job fair in January.

Sroufe said he consistently advocates for increased teacher pay, both with state representatives that include State Sen. Bill Stanley and Del. Charles Poindexter, and others.

This session of the General Assembly is slated to end on March 11, and lawmakers currently are hammering out a compromise budget.

“I wish the state would commit to treating teachers as the professionals they are,” and provide more state funds for teacher pay, Sroufe said. “I’m hoping the state comes back with more money (for teacher pay) and takes some of the pressure off the locality.”

According to budget documents, the largest percentage of the school division’s budget is funded by the state, with projected state funds of more than $19.3 million – or more than 62 percent; federal funds account for more than $2 million, or nearly 7 percent, of the proposed budget; local funds are projected at more than $8.4 million, or nearly 27 percent. Funds from other sources are projected to be more than $1.1 million, documents show.

Operating expenses in the proposed 2018-19 budget include more than $19 million, or 62.24 percent, to be spent on instruction; more than $1.4 million, or 4.76 percent, to be spent on administration; more than $2.3 million, or 7.48 percent,  to be spent on transportation; more than $2.2 million, or 7.3 percent, to be spent on maintenance; more than $1.4 million, or 4.8 percent, to be spent on food service; debt service of more than $2.4 million, or 7.76 percent, and more than $1.5 million, or 5.1 percent, projected to be spent on technology. The proposal also includes a little more than $173,075 earmarked to be spent on facilities, documents showed.

The school board is slated to vote on the proposal later this month.



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