3/23/16 First draft of ABSS budget holds line on pay

First draft of ABSS budget holds line on pay
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 3/23/16    
Reprinted with permission.      

   After a generous 2015-16 budget and 5-cent tax increase, the Alamance-Burlington School System proposes asking Alamance County for an additional $3.5 million next year while still raising salaries.

   “There was a significant tax increase last year,” Superintendent Bill Harrison told the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education on Monday. “We want to be cognizant of that and try and work with the commissioners on something they might be able to fund without having to resort to” property taxes.

   This was the board’s first look at a budget proposal. It has to vote on that request by the end of July.

   The county contributed about 24 percent of the current $187 million budget or $46 million, according to ABSS. The state makes the largest contribution, about $125 million this year, but ABSS won’t know how much that will be in 2016-17 until the legislature votes on it.

   Harrison said the five-year spending plan he laid out last year was “a little too ambitious,” so this proposal slows down the increase in spending, he said, except for a few line items, including pay and specialized programs.

   “We are going to hold the line on teacher supplements — we don’t think we can back off on that,” Harrison said. “The plan is to have our supplements comparable with Guilford County and Orange County and Durham County.”

   Harrison’s proposal would increase the local supplement the county puts on top of the state-funded base pay by an additional 1 percent next year. The supplement is graduated based on teachers’ time at ABSS, so those with five years or less at ABSS would get 10 percent supplements, those with six to 10 years would get 11 percent, and those with 11 or more years would get 12 percent for a total of $1.5 million.

   Assistant principals and principals also would get increases in their local supplements for $1.2 million.

   Classified employees, who include everyone from school psychologists to custodians, would get a $200 supplement across the board — for $161,620 — while the district conducted a $60,000 pay study to see how competitive local pay is.

   Hiring more teachers and teacher assistants for specialized programs like the Splash Spanish immersion program would cost the county an additional $702,611.

   Technology spending would not get an increase next year, delaying by a year the plan to get laptops or tablets to every student, Harrison said.

   The proposed budget would ask for $500,000 for maintenance and construction next year.

Budget highlights

ABSS 2016-17 budget proposal
Increase in operating budget: $3 million
Increase in local supplements to salaries: ¦

  • Teachers: $1.5 million ¦
  • Assistant principals: $94,477 ¦
  • Principals: $30,506 ¦
  • Classified employees: $161,620

Salary study for classified employees: $60,000
New teachers for specialized programs like Spanish immersion: $702,611