School board will cut in areas other than personnel

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Despite looking at a $3 million cut in state funding, the Shelby County Board of Education is not looking to make cuts in personnel areas and recently approved payraises for certain personnel.

At the board’s September meeting, School Superintendent Evan Major pointed out that Shelby Schools will probably lose about $3 million as a result of state budget cuts.

He said the good news is that is less than the $5 million in cuts the school system was expecting in light of the failed tax vote.

Major said however, whatever is cut from the budget will have to come from areas other than personnel.

&uot;We will have to make some adjustments and will have to look at all areas. It’s going to hurt here,&uot; he said.

Major pointed out, however, that expected increases in the student-teacher ratio from the state could cause the system to lose 70 teaching positions.

He said the annual growth of the student population is a compensating factor or the loss of positions could be as many as 90.

At this time last year, Major said, the school system was working on a five-year plan and looking to hold a vote on a local ad valorem tax increase specifically for schools.

That did not happen, however.

He said the system added 1,000 more students this year and with another 1,000 expected next year, it is looking at a total increase of 2,000 students since the five-year plan was developed.

Major said the school system will have to go back to analyze &uot;the mood of the people&uot; and ask &uot;Are we ready to tax ourselves?&uot;

While the school board did not approve a pay increase for teachers at its September meeting, it did approve a 4 percent payraise for instructional/bilingual/interventionist aides as well as increases for certain Child Nutrition Program personnel.

According to Evelyn Blake, assistant superintendent of personnel, CNP programs personnel who were previously unpaid for a 30 minute lunch but who were constantly interrupted will be paid for that time.

Major added that the school system needed the personnel to work the additional 30 minutes for which they now will be paid.

Blake also reported that CNP substitutes who received slightly above minimum wage will be increase to Step 0 pay. Step 0 is $13,608 per year.

Major said this was done to help employ more personnel, and &uot;substitutes can be very difficult to find.&uot;

Major pointed out that pay increases for CNP personnel will come from program funds.

The pay for instructional/bilingual/interventionist aides will now range from $14,415.96 at Step 0 to $16,611.72 at Step 20, an increase which reflects years of experience.

When asked how the board could justify the 4 percent pay increase for these aides, Major said Shelby County Schools was not competitive to hire and keep qualified personnel in these specific positions.

He said the aides represent a &uot;small but deserving group.&uot;

&uot;We want to be able to hire the best people we can and remain competitive to keep the best employees we can,&uot; he said.

The 4 percent payraise for certain aides represents less than one-10th of 1 percent of the budget, Major said.

In another employee-related matter, the board approved a revised overtime compensation policy for support employees.

Included in the revision, non-exempt support employees cannot work in excess of 40 hours per week without advanced approval of the superintendent of education or his designee.

An exception will be made for employees who work in the Community Education Program and employees who have a valid contract with a local school in addition to their regular job with the board of education.

Non-exempt personnel

will be given the choice of being compensated at one-half times the regular rate of pay or be granted one-half hours of compensatory time for each hour of approved overtime worked up to a maximum of 40 hours.

Board employees who also work with the Community Education Program and those who contract with the local school for overtime work will be compensated next less than one and one-half times the regular hourly pay rate for hours worked over 40 in a week’s time in accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Blake said in the past, support and non-exempt certified personnel could accumulate up to 240 hours of comp time, now reduced to 40 hours, or be paid overtime.

In other business, Jim Davis, assistant superintendent of finance for Shelby County Schools, said for the month of August, the general fund carried a balance of about $8.6 million.

But as some $1.6 million of that amount is encumbered (money owed), he pointed out that the school system is left with a balance of around $7 milion.

He said to meet the recommendation of the State School Superintendent Ed Richardson

of a one-month carryover, the system would need to keep about $10.3 million in reserve.

Davis said the school system does not have that reserve and will not have that reserve because it is putting its money into student programs and housing students.

School board member Trey Ireland agreed.

He said the failure to maintain one month operating reserve did not bother him.

He said it is not a law to keep a $10-11 million reserve and that to him the proper thing is to spend the money rather than trying to meet an &uot;arbitrary mandate.&uot;

Davis said tax revenues came

in at 5.26 percent in August but will need to come in at 5.96 percent to meet budget.

For the month of August, the school board approved expenditures of $8.73 million and wages of $7.71 million for a total of $16.4 million.

In academic areas, the board approved a contract for The American Village teacher to be paid on an 80-20 basis.

According to Blake, this position is not new but has been annually renewed since The Village opened.

She said the school board pays 20 percent of the salary while the Citizenship Trust pays 80 percent.

The teacher has helped developed curriculum there for

field trips, creates the website

for Alabama teachers to share ideas for citizenship education, assists in the publication of the American Village Journal, conducts workshops, assists Alabama teachers with implementation of lesson plans and assists in the publication of citizenship education curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grades.

Blake said the teacher works at The American Village and the position pays between $44,000 and $56,000 per year depending upon experience.

Also, Major commended four schools which received congratulatory letters from State School Superintendent

Richardson for improvement.

Elvin Hill, Shelby Elementary and Wilsonville Elementary all improved significantly on the fifth grade writing assessment and were able to go from warning priority to clear status.

Shelby County High School improved to clear status on the state graduation exam.

The schools received $2,000 each from the state education budget for the accomplishment.

In addition to the improvement at their school, teachers from Elvin Hill Elementary were also recently asked to demonstrate their Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation preparation process to other school personnel in Montgomery.

In other matters:

* The board approved a small construction contract to Miller Roofing Inc. for metal facia at

Elvin Hill School at a cost of $49,200.

* The board awarded the bid for CNP equipment to BRESCO

at a cost of $155,883 and a technology cargo van to Town & Country Ford at a cost of $15,409.58.

It was reported that Legacy Ford Mercury had the low bid, but did not bill all the requirements and had a longer delivery time