8/28/13 Board approves budget

Board approves budget
Controversial raise for teachers included
By Isaac Groves The Times-News 8/28/13  
Reprinted with permission.       

   The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education approved the system’s roughly $180 million 2013-14 budget with a controversial $321,000 raise for the system’s teachers by a 4-3 vote.

   “I would like it noted you’re giving a raise, a slight raise, to a select few,” said board member Jackie Cole. “How do you lay off people and give the rest a raise?”

   The board asked system finance staff to draw up two budget resolutions. There was the superintendent’s recommended budget, and another using $321,000 for teacher pay from $1.5 million in additional county money.

   The Alamance County Board of Commissioners recommended an increase in pay when it approved the $1.5 million.

   Tony Rose, ABSS board chairman, said the cuts forcing the layoffs came from the state Legislature and the school board had little or no choice in making them. The county money, though, the board could use it as it would.

   “I think it shows that we’re concerned about what (teachers) are going through at the state level,” Rose said. “And I’m concerned about our relations with the commissioners.”

   “You have got to be kidding,” Cole said. “You are sucking up to the commissioners.”

   “No one’s sucking up to anybody,” Rose said. “It shows the commissioners that we’re serious about their recommendations.

   “I think that’s an important thing to take into consideration because we will be asking them for money in the future.”

   The board first voted on the superintendent’s recommended budget at its regular monthly meeting Monday.

   The motion failed 3-4 with board members Cole, Steve Van Pelt and Kirsten Moffitt voting for it.

   “I respect the work (school administrators) put into this, and their staff, and their expertise,” Moffitt said after the vote.

   “And that’s why I feel so strongly about the way I voted.”

   A second motion was for a budget with $321,000 going to teacher pay and $69,000 going to supplements and materials, said Julie Masten, executive director of finance for ABSS. It passed. Board members Rose, Patsy Simpson, Brad Evans and Pamela Thompson voted in favor.

   In the budget regular curricular services, teachers, will increase by $321,000 to $9.7 million.

   But funding for school population services will be cut by $50,000 to just under $2 million.

   Funding for alternative programs and services will be cut by $50,000 to $825,526.

   Technology and support services would be cut by $50,000 to $863,847; and policy, leadership and public relations will be cut by $66,028 to $1.1 million.

   The average teacher salary for ABSS is $36,900. The half-percent supplement would equal $184.50, which divided over 10 months is $18.45 a month before taxes.

   Superintendent Lillie Cox declined the automatic cost-of-living raise in her contract earlier this month.

   The major concern for the board is coming next year.

   This budget uses more than $3.3 million from the system’s fund balance, or savings, but the fund balance is now depleted, and it will not be a significant source of money in the 2014-15 budget, Van Pelt said.

   Simpson said the board knew this was coming when more than $5 million in federal funding for teaching positions expired.

   “We knew that day was coming,” Simpson said. “The fact is we went and spent more in terms of positions to do the things we wanted to do, and guess what, it’s now time to pay the bill.”

   The system’s budget has $4.9 million in state and federal funding reductions; $2.3 million less from the federal and $1.3 million less from the state, Masten said.

   The system eliminated 17 teaching positions and 35 teacher assistants.