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Rowan-Salisbury school board discusses budget requests

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education began whittling down its budget during its Monday work session.

School staff presented $1.7 million in budget requests, a number that Superintendent Lynn Moody said was initially more than $3 million when she began collecting requests.

“So we’ve done a lot of cutting to that list,” Moody said.

But she said she and her staff are aware that more cuts are likely.

Requests included a renewal of a teacher recruiter, risk management assistant, two new maintenance positions and two school nurses.

“All of this is an increase from last year’s budget — so we’re clear on that,” board member Dean Hunter said.

Requests also included $774,850 to increase salary supplements, the product of a recent salary study the district ordered. The study, conducted by School Efficiency Consultants, recommended that principal supplements be increased to an average of $11,500, assistant principal supplements be increased to an average of $4,700 and teacher supplements be increased to an average of $3,000.

Raising supplements would enable Rowan-Salisbury Schools to be competitive with surrounding counties, the study said.

Bringing teacher supplements up systemwide would cost about $1.2 million, the study estimated. But the budget request allots only $300,000. Chief Financial Officer Robin Leslie said that, combined with supplement increases from last year, “that’ll take us halfway there.”

If the board added $300,000 this year and did the same next year, the district soon would be on par with its neighbors.

The increases also included $150,000 for support staff, though Moody said that includes only clerical and financial positions.

Board Chairman Josh Wagner and member Travis Allen pointed out that the board should at least discuss giving supplements to other classified staff, including janitors, cafeteria workers, maintenance staff and teacher assistants.

“You’re going to have a lot of folks who feel like they really did get left out,” Wagner said.

Allen said the district won’t be able to compete with surrounding districts on teacher salaries this year. Because teacher pay was addressed last year, he said, he’d like to see more focus on support staff this year.

Hunter said that is not the same as a substantial supplement increase.

“I agree in theory that we should look in every area, but they’re not apples to apples, financially,” he said.

The board should be doing what it can to retain teachers, he argued.

After some discussion about other requests and the board’s fund balance, the discussion closed.

“We know you’re going to cut some of these, move some of these. This is about priorities and choices,” Moody said.

Wagner suggested bringing the issue back for discussion at the board’s March 27 business meeting.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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