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School board dismayed over budget reductions

By SHANNON WATKINS

shannon@southwesttimes.com

(Editor’s Note: When first posted, this story inaccurately identified Pulaski County School Board Vice Chairman Jeff Bain, who represents the county’s Massie District, as Fred Bain. The story has been corrected to reflect Mr. Bain’s real name, with our apologies for the mistake.)

 

Teachers in the Pulaski County school system hoping for salary increases may be stuck waiting longer for them, according to information given at Thursday night’s school board budget meeting.

Pulaski County School Board Chairman Mike Barbour announced to a visibly disappointed school board that the Board of Supervisors appears to have approved only $662,500 of the school board’s new proposed budget of $2,315,726, about 29 percent of the full amount requested.

“To put it bluntly, the county has failed us miserably in what we’ve done,” said School Board Vice-Chairman Jeff Bain later in the evening.

“I’ve received comments over the last few weeks,” Barbour said. “I don’t know if they’re sometimes made in anger or disgust, sometimes congratulatory in nature, but they’re saying, ‘Well, looks like you’re getting a lot of money with this new tax increase,’” he said, in reference to the Board of Supervisors passing a 5 cent real estate tax increase recently. “The irony is that we are actually going to be receiving $208,000 less from the county than proposed by Mr. Huber (Pete Huber, Pulaski County Administrator) with a zero percent tax increase.”

Board member Linda Hill said, “I think one of the most disappointing things was when we did have the joint meeting (with the Board of Supervisors) and they actually asked us at one point about our needs, and that they would be raising taxes to help us. And from what Mr. Barbour said, we get zero, actually less than zero, of any of the new tax money.”

“It looks like most if not all of the districts in the New River Valley are voting for a 2 percent (teachers’) raise,” said Barbour.

Hill said, “Except us.”

Barbour also noted that while the Board of Supervisors had initially agreed to accept the school board’s request, within the new proposed budget, of $150,000 for school security cameras, in the last two weeks it reversed this decision, cutting out $100,000 and applying it toward the purchases of new buses.

Barbour asked Director of Technology Tim Barnes, who was also present, “What is the cost of the cameras the county is planning to install in the sheriff’s office here on (Route) 99? What is the cost for that one building?”

Barnes said that the expected cost was approximately $60,000, and to further questioning said that the libraries would be getting cameras as well for about $10,000.

“We’re primarily looking at cameras in the children’s reading rooms in case there’s any suspicious adults hanging around,” he advised.

In regard to the cameras for the sheriff’s office, Barbour murmured, “I won’t say it.”

“I’ll say it,” replied Bain. “It’s a hell of a lot more important that they have cameras in the jail than we have security in our schools. Is that sufficient enough?”

“Well, I dread that day that it hits home,” said school board member Frances Viars. “The day that something happens in one of our schools.”

Barbour said that now other reductions would have to be made in school systems budget on the heels of about $435,000 in reductions the school board committed to make before submitting the new budget proposal to the board of supervisors.

The base funding of $12,281,439 is unchanged, but the additional amount was to fund security cameras for schools, a school resource officer at each middle school, lower employee health insurance premiums, add new employees eligible for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, raise the teacher salary scale between 21 and 30 years of experience and the local share of a 2 percent salary increase offered by the state.

“Well, we have spent 8 budget workshop meetings, untold hundreds if not thousands of man-hours, putting together and working though this budget this year,” Bain noted. “My recommendation would be that this be the last year that we go through this budget process, that we just say, basically, next year, this was last year’s budget, we need a 2 percent, a 4 percent increase, we pass that and send it over, and whatever increase we get, it’ll be miniscule I’m sure, we’ll just take the time and work it.

“And that way,” he concluded, “the tens of thousands of man-hours that have been spent up to this point can be applied to the education of our children in this county. This has been a zero-sum game for us. It’s produced nothing.”

Board member Linda Hill noted of the time spent on the budget, “The hours Jeff mentioned, we do appreciate them. All of them.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

comments

7 Responses to School board dismayed over budget reductions

  1. county employee

    May 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    This needs to be remembered when election tuime comes around.

  2. Patricia Betteken

    May 7, 2013 at 7:36 am

    As a tax payer and a teacher I am shocked. People always say how much they appreciate the work teacher do. I don’t think this shows that.

  3. Concerned Parent and Citizen

    May 7, 2013 at 11:16 am

    As a parent of a child in Pulaski County schools and a resident of the town I am dissappointed at the way money is handled and decisions are made. However, until new people start running for office and parents start supporting the schools and teachers in this county things will never change. Schools are only as strong as the community that supports them. Volunteer your time, join the PTO, and make sure your children get the support they need. It takes a village.

  4. Concerned Parent and Voter

    May 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Disgusting! I can’t believe the Board of Supervisors could be so sneaky. I hope that all of the good people of Pulaski realize that not one penny of this tax hike is going to their children and grandchildren. I am so glad that my children are going to be attending crumbling middle schools and are going to be taught by underpaid and burned out teachers. Way to live down to everyone’s low expectations Pulaski!

  5. concerned

    May 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

    I agree. It is really a shame. The biggest problem is having to combat the myths about teacher insurance, pension plans, benefits etc. that are perpetuated by many in the community. The board of supervisors will place blame on the school board, the school board will place blame on the board of supervisors, part of the community will blame the teachers for being greedy. Its the same old thing in Pulaski county and its been going on for years but nobody wants to beleive that the deteioration of the county coincides with the deteioration of the school system. We have some great teachers in Pulaski and there has been a growing trend over the past 5-7 that the best teachers are leaving for greener pastures. Many of the ones that stay are either long time residents of the community, grew up and graduated from here, have extended family members, or are already close to retirement.

  6. Concerned, confused and angry

    May 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I have been to each Board of Supervisors meetings held in the past few months and have listened attentively to the things that have been said. The night of the Public Hearing, Mr. Huber had three different budget proposals.
    1) No tax increase and still give the school board $770,771 plus $150,000 for cameras to protect the schools and children of this county.
    2) A four cent tax increase would allow the county to give the School board $1,380,000 plus the $150,000 for the cameras.
    3) A six cent tax increase would allow to give the $1,380,000 and the $150,000 to the school board and would give the board of supervisors’ additional money for capital improvements.
    At this meeting many citizens spoke both against a tax increase and several in favor of the tax increase. The major focus for no tax increase was the effect it would have on limited income families and most in favor of the increase was for the schools to have money for an increase in teacher salaries and benefits. At a later point the Board of Supervisors voted on a five cent tax increase. With this vote those in attendance were left with the impression that the school board would be receiving $1,380,000 in additional funds for the schools plus the $150,000. Now, however, it appears that after the board approved a 5 cent tax increase “because the schools needed the funds” they are not going to give the schools one cent of the voted increase. Actually the schools will receive $662,000 and $50,000 for cameras. This is much less than what was proposed for the schools to received with no tax increase. Where is the money going? It sure is not going where the Board of Supervisors led the citizens of Pulaski County to believe it was going. I would encourage every parent, grandparent and educator in the county to contact their member on the Board of Supervisors and let them know how you feel on this issue. It has been five or six years since the educators in Pulaski County have received a significant pay increase and then for many it was consumed by increased insurance premiums. In some years it came as a onetime small bonus. If this county wants to maintain a quality school system, then we are going to have to pay the people that work in the system. If we do not then our children will not be able to compete for jobs in today’s global society. We have lost many of our good teachers to neighboring counties and this is going to continue if you do not do something to stop it. Pulaski County needs to take advantage of any opportunity to take money from the state even if there is a cost involved such as the 2% for teachers; the benefits by far are greater than the cost. What was the Board of Supervisors thinking when they said NO! It is my understanding that Pulaski County is the only county around that did not accept this money other that Roanoke that gave their teachers a 3% salary increase last year.

  7. JenNin

    May 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Please everyone are you so shocked over this news? When did the care and education of our younger generation ever take priority over anything? When did keeping good teachers in Pulaski County ever matter? When was the last time anyone checked the salaries of our school staff as opposed to over districts? AND, you are surprised we can keep our experienced staff? Or and why I am on the subject, when did anyone last check the pay of a paraeducator? We have a classroom ratio of 24 to 1 on average. You have a student unruly because of medical and mental needs. Kicking biting throwing items. So now we have a para if the teacher is really lucky to work with this individual. This para is “kinda” trained but for the main room teacher, she is heaven sent. Remember we have 24 to 1 in this room. Now does this para have insurance for the times she has been biten, hit, spit on? Nope. Do they make minimum wage? Maybe if lucky.. But are they deligent in their job? YES because if they are there for any other reason other than caring, it sure isn’t the benefits or money. Ok, lets plant flowers in the medians, plant a new tree on main street, most definitely build a museum, which actually wasn’t a bad idea, but the location? From the museum to the foot of the mountain, how scenic!!! Thank you teachers and paras for your dedication!!!! Let me know if it pays your medical expenses, but it is the thought behind it!!!

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