School budget boon pays for a dozen new items

Published 10:07 pm Thursday, April 26, 2007

By Staff
Teacher pay could be upped $200
Staff Writer
The predetermined county allocation to the school system’s 2007-2008 local budget is $1.3 million more than what was budgeted for the current fiscal year.
Under an interlocal agreement between Beaufort County commissioners and school board members, the county will pay set allocations to the schools for the next four years, and the school board has agreed not to sue the county for more funding.
The two government entities are still entangled in a lawsuit filed last June over the current local budget. The N.C. Court of Appeals will review the case in May.
For 2007-2008, schools will receive from the county $10.75 million for local expenses. The agreement also stipulates the county’s contribution to capital outlay, a separate school budget for construction and building maintenance needs.
Capital outlay allocations will remain fixed at $1,503,066 over the next four years, but the local budget will receive about 5 percent increases each fiscal year.
The $10.75 million amount represents a 5 percent increase to the $10.2 million awarded to the school system by a Beaufort County Superior Court jury. That decision is under appeal.
Commissioners had approved a $9.4 million allocation to the current local expense budget. With the $1.3 million local boon expected for the upcoming fiscal year, school officials proposed a budget that paid for mandatory increases, boosted teacher supplements and reserved funds for school principals to use on furniture and equipment, instructional supplies and other school expenses.
Teachers are set to receive $200 more in a local salary supplement under the proposed budget approved unanimously by the school board Monday.
Superintendent Jeff Moss said salary supplements help the county remain competitive in hiring teachers.
According to school data, neighboring Pitt County paid nearly $1,000 more for teachers than Beaufort County can because of the larger supplement it offers locally.
Craven and Pamlico counties also offer heftier supplements for teachers. But Hyde, Martin and Washington counties have salary supplements below what Beaufort offers.
Beaufort County supplements are offered on a sliding scale based on a teacher’s experience and education. A brand-new teacher with a bachelor’s degree will receive a $1,200 local supplement. A teacher with 16 or more years of experience and a master’s degree will receive a $1,350 local supplement.
The $200-per-teacher supplement boost will cost a total of $120,756.
The local budget also projects state legislated increases to salaries, benefits, hospitalization and retirement. Because locally paid employees receive the same pay and benefits as personnel paid with state funds, increases made at the state level effect the local budget.
Legislated increases account for $190,955 of the budget increase.
The 2007-2008 local budget has a new line item that previously appeared under the capital outlay budget.
Upkeep of grounds, a $171,028 cost to the system, was moved to the local budget. In deliberations last June over the 2006-2007 proposed budget, commissioners voiced objections to the recurring expense appearing in the capital outlay budget.
Moss said then that because the line item increased the longevity of school buildings and was recurring, it could be budgeted as a capital expense or as a current expense.
Energy costs are predicted to increase by $112,090; two new teaching positions will cost $80,000; and a new maintenance position for a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning specialist will cost $38,145.
The proposed budget also adjusts salaries of classified employees, such as maintenance, transportation, secretarial and clerical personnel.
The pay adjustment allows outside experience to fully factor into new employees’ salary schedules. Previously, a maintenance worker entering the school system with two years’ experience in the field would start in the salary schedule as an employee having 1 year of experience.
Changing the 2-to-1 experience scale to a 1-to-1 match will cost $142,209.
The remaining expected increase is budgeted to go to principals. The board approved redirecting $35,000 from the current maintenance budget into this allotment.
The money was earmarked for a painter position, but Moss said that with the current contracts and in-house painting the system has, the position isn’t needed.
The principals’ allotment is based on average daily membership of each school, and board members specifically designated $8.40 per student to be used for instructional supplies and $10 per student to be used for furniture and equipment.
The remaining $19.35 per student will be discretionary funds for principals.
At Washington High School, the county’s largest school, that would amount to $21,807 in discretionary funds for the high school principal.