On Monday evening the Clarke County School Board approved budget funds for a pay raise to teaching employees at the low-end of the salary scale and to cover retirement contributions for new employees. The School Board also restored support for waste recycling and purchased catastrophic injury insurance for students. In the meantime, the purchase option for five aging temporary classroom trailers remains unfunded.
Teacher Salary Schedule Adjustment
The School Board approved changes to the CCPS salary schedule that will result in a small salary increase to employees at the low end of the pay scale. The changes are intended to help keep teacher salaries competitive.
Under the existing Teacher Salary Scale a first year instructor earns $36,575, however, the same teacher’s salary actually drops $200 in the second year of employment.
The pay adjustment, approved unanimously Monday night, adjusts the first four years of the Teacher Salary Scale and will cost $24,344. The salary schedule adjustment will appear as a pay raise for 23 Clarke County teachers.
Virginia Retirement System Cost Woes Passed to Local County Governments
The Clarke County School Board continues to assess and evaluate budget priorities in the face of declining education support from Richmond. State tax revenue declines have caused collateral damage throughout the Commonwealth’s local school districts, most recently in changes to the state contribution towards school employee retirement.
“The State government has borrowed heavily from the Virginia Retirement System (VRS)” Clarke County Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy said to the School Board. “The result is that the State has decided that it can no longer continue to pay new employee retirement benefits at the same rate as existing employees.”
The revised VRS benefit rules essentially create two employee retirement funding classes; Benefits for existing school employees will continue to be funded by the Commonwealth while retirement benefit costs for employees hired after July 1st will not.
Monday’s School Board decision means that Clarke County will pay the 5% benefit contribution for new employees for at least the coming fiscal year.
VSBA Student Accident Insurance
For years Clarke County parents have had the option of purchasing low cost accident insurance for students. Participation rates have been very low. So low, in fact, that the School Board has decided to reverse the downward participation by opting to cover all students.
The catastrophic insurance coverage is “portal-to-portal” meaning that students are covered from the time that they board a school bus until the time that they return home. The insurance will also provide coverage for emergency hospital medical treatment during school trips or for injuries that occur locally. Some dental coverage is also included.
According to CCPS Business Director Edward Breslauer, 17% of Clarke County’s students qualify for free or reduced price meal benefits. Breslauer says that meal benefits are often an indicator of minimal or no insurance.
The new policy coverage, approved unanimously Monday night, is primary in the absence of any other insurance and is secondary if the family already has insurance.
The student accident insurance will cost $8,988 to be funded from the FY2011 restored priorities list from Local Composite Index funds.
Other FY2011 Budget Add-backs
Dollars from Virginia’s convoluted formula for apportioning state tax dollars to local school districts, the Local Composite Index, will be used to support two other School programs.
Membership fees for the Virginia High School League, formerly paid from gate proceeds from sporting events, will be funded by the School Board. Cost of the membership is $3,522.
The School Board voted to give $2K to the Litter Committee to support recycling bins.
Mobile Classroom Lease Buyout
School budget staff is still trying to locate $75K to buy five used trailers.
The five mobile homes (leased five years ago as temporary classroom space while the new high school was being built) need to be purchased or returned to the leasing company. Last month the School Board directed staff to purchase the units out of “FY-10 funds to be identified by the Superintendent”.
The problem is that Budgeting Director Tom Judge has not been able to find the spare funds to make the buy. The purchase avoids a $5K fee for each mobile home if the buildings were returned to the leasing company, Modular Technologies of Winchester.
Purchasing the trailers offers one additional benefit aside from avoiding the costly return fee; The necessity for conducting class sessions out-of-doors will be avoided given that the new school has still yet to be built.