Schools seek 2% pay raises
by Larry Chowning
The proposed $13,726,550 Mid-dlesex County 2013-14 (FY14) school budget includes a 2% raise for all instructional personnel and support staff in the county school system.
School superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor reported Monday to the school board that the Governor and General Assembly have changed an initial recommendation to provide funding for a pay raise just to instructional personnel. The state budget will now include a 2% raise as well for instructional personnel and all “contract” support staff.
Dr. Taylor reported the state will provide funds to offset the cost of the raises based on the county’s composite index, and has mandated that school systems must fund the entire proposal in order to receive any funding.
The county’s composite index, a formula used to determine a county’s ability to pay for its school system, is .7431. This means the county has to pay about 75 cents out of every $1 spent for the 2% raises.
To fund raises for “contract” employees, Dr. Taylor said he plans to reduce compensation to substitute teachers; eliminate substitute compensation for teacher aides; reduce professional development by not bringing in as many outside consultants; and reduce tuition reimbursement for employees. Also, he plans to level fund energy and fuel costs and reduce funding for materials and supplies.
Dr. Taylor also said he may propose offsetting a 12% ($104,000) increase in health insurance costs for employees by eliminating one of four healthcare plan options. The county currently pays $415 per month for all plans and that will not change, he said.
The greatest reduction in revenues comes from the federal government. Dr. Taylor said because of the federal sequestration, even more federal funds will be cut from the school system’s budget than originally projected. There will be an 18% ($141,409) cut in federal assistance to the county school system, he reported.
Dr. Taylor said to offset losses of federal funds and increases in expenditures could necessitate the following: eliminate or reduce a position for a Title I full-time teaching equivalent (FTE) support teacher; eliminate a Title I classroom aide position; eliminate a Title VI reading specialist position; eliminate an English as second language (ESL) hourly position; reduce the contract of one St. Clare Walker (SCW) teaching position from 11 months to 10 months; eliminate one FTE speech services position; and eliminate one teaching position at Middlesex Elementary School (MES).
Earlier school officials were considering eliminating two positions at MES, but one position has been restored to the budget, he said.
Other proposed position changes are to: realign the assistant principal’s position at MES; include human resources with the assistant superintendent of instruction position; rename the supervisor of maintenance and transportation the “director of operations”; increase a SCW counselor’s contract to 12 months; increase one MHS clerical counselor’s position to 12 months and combine the position to create the position of “Director of Data, Assessment Research and Technology.”