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School board to request increase in teacher supplements from Rowan County

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education hopes to increase salary supplements for teachers, principals and assistant principals in the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Funding for the increased supplements makes up most of the board’s budget requests to the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. Requests must be submitted to the county by April 18.

For the past two months, the board has been whittling down a list of requests totaling $1.7 million. At its Monday work session, the board chose to highlight its top three priorities.

The list included a teacher recruiter, a school resource officer for Henderson Independent High School, transportation costs, and a principal mentorship program.

During the hourlong discussion, board members tried to categorize the needs and questioned how to fund those that don’t make the list sent to the county.

The board also is dealing with some “moving target” budget concerns — including the amount the district will have to pay to local charter schools and the cost of reduced class sizes for kindergarten through third grade should the General Assembly not amend that mandate. Those costs could potentially be addressed with the money the district will save from its new, cheaper computer lease with Apple Inc.

“It gives us a little bit more breathing room to make some decisions with,” Superintendent Lynn Moody said.

Moody recommended that the board at least request funding for salary supplement increases — amounts that are supported by the findings of a salary study the district participated in — as well as salaries to hire two additional school nurses and legal and administrative costs, including background checks for volunteers and the school resource officer.

“The rest, I think, we can deal with as we know more information later,” she said.

Those items would bring the request to the county to just under $1 million in additional funding.

After some discussion, the board decided to include supplements for only those positions cited in the salary study — teachers, principals, assistant principals, directors and HVAC technicians. The list originally included $150,000 for supplements for classified and support staff.

Board member Travis Allen objected to the change, saying support staff members are often overlooked for raises and supplements. He said he does not want them to feel undervalued.

But Chairman Josh Wagner said the board has to make some tough choices.

“At some point, you have to say, ‘Where is the biggest need?’” he said.

Wagner said that includes classroom shortages and making sure teacher salaries are competitive with those in surrounding counties.

After further discussion, the board agreed to provide bonuses to support staff at a later date. The $150,000 tentatively budgeted for those supplements was added to the $300,000 requested for teacher supplements, bringing that total requested for supplements to $774,850.

“That’s probably the simplest and easiest thing, and it lines up with our salary study,” Wagner said.

The board also voted to include funding for two school nurses and for legal and administrative costs, including a school resource officer — bringing the total request to $985,850.

The motions were approved unanimously.

On the remaining requests, the board unanimously voted to pay for them out of its fund balance.

In other business Monday, the board:

  • Discussed the possibility of opening a virtual academy, which would allow home-schooled and private school students to supplement their education with online courses offered through the public school system.
  • Approved an employee assistance program that would contract with local mental health services.
  • Agreed to advertise for upset bids for current Apple devices.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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