The Board of Education met in special session Monday night to revise its proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year but didn't do much cutting.
In fact, most of the new spending for extra teacher and supplement positions were left in the budget. In order to meet requirements of the federal Affordable Health Care Act, the board budgeted funds to offer single coverage health insurance to all full time classified employees (support staff) who want it, beginning January 1, 2014. Employees who take the school system up on its offer will have to pay ninety dollars per month. The school system will cover the rest. No additional insurance benefit will be offered to certified personnel. The vote was 7-0 to include funds in the budget for the insurance.
"If our guidelines change of course we would have to come back and change this, " said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby. "We still do not know what the Affordable Health Care Act is going to entail. We'll be learning more about that as the months go on. I don't think there is anyone in Tennessee that really knows how this is going to affect them," he said.
Currently Certified employees who have either a single or a family plan pay 36% and the school system picks up 64%. Support staff currently pay 49% of their coverage and the school system pays a 51% matching portion. While the school system apparently already meets the affordable health care requirements for certified personnel, it would be subject to penalties unless it does more for support staff.
The revised budget calls for certified employees to receive a one time bonus instead of a 1.5% pay raise. Director Willoughby said approximately $40,000 in state funds will pay for the bonuses which comes to about $160 per employee. "What I am recommending at this time is the 1.5% pay raise for certified employees to be as a bonus and to take that $40,000 that we receive from the state and split that among all certified employees. That is nothing from local money. If it comes in $41,000 then we'll split $41,000 but it's all straight flow through money from the state," said Director Willoughby.
During Monday night's meeting, Director Willoughby recommended budgeting the bonuses along with funds to create some new positions he felt the school system could not do without in the coming year. All board members voted for Willoughby's recommendation except for Charles Robinson who wanted to give a pay raise rather than a bonus.
Willoughby's recommendations included the following:
Two new teacher positions at DeKalb Middle School: $90,000 total
One new P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary School: $45,000
One new extra teacher position (instead of two) which may or may not be needed depending upon enrollment at the elementary school level: $45,000 (position not to be filled if not needed)
Two federal teacher positions moving to general purpose schools (local budget): $90,000 total
Under the Gifted Education Program: One new gifted position: $45,000
Under Special Education Program: A half time psychologist: $27,000
Gone from the budget is an athletic director $5,000 supplement position for the school system; a stipend for teachers attending in-service, $35,000 (that will now be funded with federal money through Professional Development), and $5,000 for a part time clerical employee.
Board members Billy Miller and Doug Stephens voted for creating the athletic director job but the other five members voted against it.
The other new supplement positions were voted on one by one and were adopted. Board members Johnny Lattimore and John David Foutch voted against most of them, saying they felt like the school system could not afford them at this time. Concerned about potential pay inequities, W.J. (Dub) Evins,III voted against adding two new assistant soccer coaching positions at DCHS. Evins said if the same person were hired to be the assistant coach for both spring and fall soccer then he or she would make more in supplement pay than the high school football coach.
Other new positions included in the budget:
Assistant band director (working primarily at DeKalb West School), $5,000. (The vote was 5-2 in favor)
Two new Middle School Soccer Coaches: $2,785 each (The vote was 5-2 in favor)
One baseball coach at DeKalb West School: $2,785 (The vote was 5-2 in favor)
Two new assistant soccer coaches at DCHS: $2,785 each (The vote was 4-3 in favor)
One new Cross Country Running coach: $2,785 (The vote was 5-2 in favor)
The original proposal was for the Transportation Supervisor's salary to increase by $12,440 but some board members felt that was too much of a pay raise in one year. Instead, the board voted to plug in a pay raise of $4,150 this year. Their intention is to possibly increase the pay for that position again for the next two years, subject to funding to bring the salary in line with other school transportation supervisors in the area. The vote was 6-1 in favor.
Although it was not specifically addressed in the budget, Director Willoughby said the school system might be able to come up with funds for one school resource officer, if the county could fund three new positions. That would put an SRO at each school in the county. Willoughby said $15,000 could be available through a Safe Schools grant to help fund an SRO. The school system, he said, could probably come up with another $15,000. The cost to fund an SRO for the first year would be around $30,000.
In order to balance this revised budget, the school board has voted to include $84,000 in new BEP revenues. The board is also asking the county to appropriate another $350,000 from the special school sinking or local option sales tax fund for school operation. The rest of the $1.2 to $1.4 million needed would come from the school system's reserve fund. This time last year the school system was anticipating budgeting $1.2 million of the reseserve to balance by the end of June 30, 2013. But the deficit is actually expected to be around $300,000.
The school budget, as revised, now goes to the county budget committee for review. If the committee approves it, the spending plan will go before the county commission for a final vote this summer. If the budget committee does not approve, the proposed budget will come back to the school board for further revisions.
(Pictured above: left to right- Charles Robinson, W.J. (Dub) Evins, III, Kenny Rhody, John David Foutch, Johnny Lattimore, Billy Miller, Doug Stephens, and Director of Schools Mark Willoughby)