The Clarke County School Board passed a budget resolution last night paving the way for a compensation boost for school employees. If approved by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors, school staff could see a one to two percent one-time salary bonus in fiscal year 2012 pending the outcome of budget deliberations in Richmond over the coming days. The move comes after weeks of budget debate between school officials seeking increased resources for schools and Clarke County supervisors who have pledged to hold the line on tax increases in the face of the “Great Recession”.
The School Board formally approved its budget last night after a public hearing in which no members of the public spoke. As with previous budget hearings, last night’s meeting saw only a few members of the public in attendance.
Despite the general public’s lack of interest in last night’s proceedings, Clarke County Public Schools administration and the Clarke County Education Association have kept steady pressure on the School Board to provide teachers with some form of financial increase arguing that neighboring jurisdictions are drawing away Clarke County teaching staff with higher wages. The lack of a pay increase for teachers over the last three budget cycles has been cited as jeopardizing Clarke County Public Schools ability to provide a world class education to students.
At last night’s meeting, school board member Robina Bouffault (White Post) offered a budget amendment to the Board of Supervisors requesting the General Fund Balance designation for Fiscal Year 2009 carryover be utilized to fund “increases for operating and capital.”
By including “operating expenses,” Bouffault’s amendment requests that the Supervisors deviate from their long-time practice of restricting budget carry-over funds to one-time capital expenditures only.
Bouffault’s amendment further requested, “if the Commonwealth Budget results in decreased expenditure or increased revenue, thereby resulting in decreased need for local funds, then the Fiscal Year 2009 carryover designation would be restored,” and “that if funds remain from the additional Commonwealth Revenue, or in FY 09 Carryover designation, then a further appropriation, in an amount to be determined, may be requested from these sources for use as a one-time increase in employee compensation.”
However, the likelihood of Bouffault’s amendment translating into a salary bonus for teaching staff revolves around Supervisor approval of $319K in school budget funds over last year’s level. If the Commonwealth of Virginia comes through with additional funding for local education, a strong likelihood school board members said last night, the budget resolution will allow the school board to make the teacher pay adjustment.
“The funds will be used for a one-time compensation bonus,” Bouffault said. “A one to two percent pay adjustment is possible contingent on what the state decides to give us.”
Bouffault’s amendment was passed unanimously by the School Board and will be forwarded along with CCPS Superintendent, Dr. Michael Murphy’s $24.9M budget request to the Board of Supervisors. The school budget will be presented to the Supervisors on March 1st at 7:00 pm at the Joint Government Center in Berryville, Virginia.