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BOE to discuss salary supplements

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — On Monday, the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education will consider giving teachers a 2 percent or flat money rate salary supplement. The issue was one of 13 budget requests the board looked at during an all-day retreat Thursday.

The requests ranged from outsourcing substitute teacher services to converting assistant principals to an 11-month position. But most of Thursday’s discussion centered on a $2.4 million request that would provide a 2 percent salary supplement for all staff.

While the board agreed that system staff should be paid extra – they disagreed on how or how much. Board member Chuck Hughes suggested paying a bonus that would recur “as money is available,” instead of a salary supplement.

“I’m not trying to shortchange any of our teachers or our staff, but I think we have to be prudent,” he said.

Board member Dean Hunter, however, said that a 2 percent increase was “a fraction” of what should be paid to teachers. He suggested varying percentages for certain positions – a 3 percent supplement for a teacher, but a 1 percent supplement for a bus driver.

“I do agree that our teachers are probably worth a lot more, but we are tied into what we do have,” Hughes said.

But Moody urged the board to carefully consider what message such a move might covey to system employees.

“Every category in our school system is underpaid . . . When you divide up a team of people who serve one mission and one goal and say, ‘these people are more valuable than these people are,’ that’s the message I’m afraid you’re sending,” she said.

However, Hughes and Hunter pointed out that a 2 percent salary supplement for a bus driver and a 2 percent salary supplement for a principal “aren’t really comparable.”

“Two percent of a million dollars is a lot different from 2 percent of a thousand dollars,” Hunter said.

Hunter recommended the board look at options for adjusting salary supplements, while board member Jean Kennedy said she was against “dividing people into groups” and said she preferred the flat rate.

“This is definitely something we have to move forward with, I think we agree with that,” board member Dr. Richard Miller said.

Miller also recommended a flat dollar increase – saying that maybe a $1,000 increase for full-time and a $500 increase for part-time staff might be fairer.

Part of the decision also hinges on how much money the board would receive from the county. The board hopes to present a prioritized list budget request list to the county commissioners. But Board Chair Josh Wagner reminded the board that the requests are also on the agenda for Monday’s work session, which would give them a few days to “chew on it.”

“I don’t want us to feel like we have to vote on every single thing today,” he said.

When it came to the other 12 items, the board moved quickly, crossing off outsourcing substitutes and bonuses for well-performing principals. While the board agreed the issues were important and should be revisited in the future, they decided not to include them in the requests to the county.

The other items the board agreed to revisit on Monday, once items were grouped as either a recurring cost that needed county approval or funding, or one-time costs that could be pulled from the system’s fund balance.

During Monday’s work session, the board will:

  • Consider a consolidated list of capital outlay projects at Monday’s board meeting.
  • Receive a phase one environmental assessment of the Godbey Road property.
  • Review floor plans for a field house at West Rowan High School.
  • Look at progress made on the district’s career pathways initiative.
  • Review a timeline for summer school and testing.
  • Consider contracts for its Wide Area Network, which expires June 30.

The board will meet for its April work session Monday at 1 p.m. in the Wallace Educational Forum board room.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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