By SHANNON WATKINS
After a period of waiting to find out the county’s contribution to the school system’s 2013-2014 budget, the Pulaski County School Board moved to give school employees a two percent raise during a called meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Once the meeting began, Superintendent Dr. Tom Brewster called up Director of Finance Chris Stafford to go over the new budget.
Stafford told the school board that in the presumed final budget, the Board of Supervisors decided to allow an additional $92,707 over the original $662,500 it said it would give the school board earlier in May, for a total budget increase of $775,207. The original amount the school board had submitted a request for was $2,315,726.
Now the total portion of the budget from the Board of Supervisors in 2013-2014 appears to be $13,036,646.
The budget has not yet been formally approved by the Board of Supervisors but is expected to be at their June meeting.
Stafford said of the new budget, “The recommended allocation of this funding is $662,500 for additional funding for school employee health insurance, and $92,707 for additional local funding needed for a 2 percent salary increase for all school employees.”
According to Stafford, there is still a $603,763 shortfall before any budget adjustments are made, although suggestions included a decrease for the early retirement incentive program and decrease in early retirement benefits.
Stafford said of the adjustments, “We’re presenting to you today our final proposed budget adjustments, not so much in a packaged budget format, that will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but a summary of our funds, and what those funds’ priorities will be addressing in the budget.”
After further remarks on the budget from Stafford, School Board Chairman Mike Barbour said, “Can I ask you a couple of questions? The total cost of the two percent raise, state and local shares combined, is how much approximately?”
“Roughly $575,000,” said Stafford.
“Am I correct in understanding that of the $580,000, $315,000, approximately, is state money?” asked Barbour.
Stafford replied, “That’s correct. That’s a part of the $13,036,646 that has not been formally approved; that is correct. We can only project at this point that it will be approved, until their June stated meeting.”
Stafford then recommended that the school board adopt the new budget. After further discussion of the budget’s particulars, a motion passed to do so.
Though Barbour attempted to address the council, Vice Chairman Jeff Bain spoke.
“Mr. Chairman, may I interrupt you for just a second?” he asked. “I know there was some very strong positions at the last board meeting about getting the bonuses of those to the two percent pay raise and I appreciate the fact that through very reasonable discussions the board decided to delay, but I really appreciate the fact that Brewster and Mr. Stafford and the others were able to work through and work with the folks across the street so that we could reach this conclusion and I think it’s a better outcome than the original proposal which I was very much in support of. So I appreciate the way this was handled. Thank you.”