4/27/16 Schools to ask for $184M

Schools to ask for $184M
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 4/27/16  
Reprinted with permission.      

   The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to send a $184 million budget with a $3.2 million increase and $500,000 capital-spending request to the Alamance County Board of Commissioners.

   After last year’s 5-cent tax increase, ABSS Superintendent Bill Harrison said the district would slow a little on its five-year strategic plan while still raising salaries and expanding specialized programs.

   “The commissioners were generous last year,” Harrison said. “And we would narrow our focus a little bit this year.”

   No one stepped forward to speak at the budget hearing before the board’s regular meeting.

   Most ABSS funding comes from the state, but the county contributes about 24 percent of the current ABSS budget, or $46 million.

   A large piece of that is the local supplement for teacher pay, which Harrison has been increasing incrementally to make ABSS competitive with nearby districts in Guilford, Orange and Durham counties.

   “We saw that 20 percent of those who left us went either east or west,” Harrison said.

   The local supplement to state-funded base pay would increase 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 $1.7 million.

   The long-term plan is to increase the supplement by 1 percent per year until the range is 13 percent to 15 percent supplements. The increase would come to about $8 million to fully implement the district’s five-year strategic plan in 2020.

   Assistant principals and principals also would get increases in their local supplements totaling $140,175 based on years of experience and, for principals, grade level.

   “Assistant principals do so much for a school, and they have been neglected both here and across the state,” Harrison said.

   Classified employees, who include everyone from school psychologists to custodians, would get a $200 supplement across the board — for $161,620 — while the district conducts 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.

   Harrison said ABSS is a year or two ahead of schedule in its plan to bring specialized programs to all schools, and the district will have its Splash Spanish-immersion program in all six school zones next year.

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

   While the district has a large list of improvements it wants to make to school buildings, ABSS is looking at paying for a lot of that with loans against future utilities savings. In the meantime, the budget would ask the county for $500,000 for maintenance and construction next year.

   The county budget process is behind schedule after the resignation of Dan Ingle, former chair of the county commissioners. The commissioners will hear budget presentations from ABSS and other departments in early May.

Correction (4/28/16): Of the $46 million in local funds in the Alamance-Burlington School System's 2015-16 budget, $36.4 million is the Alamance County appropriation. ABSS is requesting $39.6 million from the county in 2016-17.


Increase in operating budget: $3.2 million

Increase in local supplements to salaries:

  • Teachers, $1.7 million
  • Assistant principals, $104,186
  • Principals: $35,989
  • Classified employees: $161,620
  • Salary study for classified employees: $60,000
  • New teachers for specialized programs, such as Spanish immersion: $702,611
    Plus a capital budget request: $500,000