SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Board of Education is proposing a FY2014 operating budget that would include salary increases for all employees, funding to replace grant money that supports After School Programs and additional funding for technology.
The proposed budget includes a step increase for all eligible employees as well as a 1-percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for all employees to “begin restoring stagnant wages,” according to a memo from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson. Additionally, there would be an estimated 5-percent increase in health insurance rates.
“We have a strong desire to maintain and support our outstanding classroom teachers and staff who do a great job every day working with our students,” Wilson said.
Wilson added that parent surveys also fell in line with this thinking, with a majority citing excellent teachers as important to foster.
Bus contractors are also slated for a 2-percent increase, according to the proposed budget.
Regarding employee health care costs, Chief Financial Officer Vincent Tolbert pointed out that the 5-percent increase is just a guess at this point.
“Those rates won’t be finalized until May. It could be more; it could be less,” he said.
Besides pay increases for all staff members, the proposed budget has provisions to cover funding for middle and intermediate After School Programs, resources for which were unexpectedly lost last summer. The Board of Education was able to maintain the programs through this school year via inter-budget transfers and a one-time grant from the County Commission. While the board still hopes to recover state grant funding for the after school academies next year, room has been left in their proposed FY2014 budget to cover the programs should those outside monies not be secured.
The board will also be asking for $400,000 worth of non-recurring funding. Those funds will go mainly toward new technology, including $200,000 to purchase computer tablets for students, updating business and human resources software and increasing broadband capacity. The remaining non-recurring funds would provide for a renovation feasibility study to be conducted at Showell Elementary.
The total proposed operating budget for FY2014 is $95,846,843 and represents a 2.58-increase from last year’s budget.