Highland School Superintendent Asks Supervisors To Approve Teacher Salary Increases
Monterey, Va – The Modular Conference Center in Monterey was filled by a large audience of teachers and staff from the Highland County Public Schools for Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. School Superintendent Percy Nowlin speaks about the proposed salary increase.
“The Federal government has come down with a federal education jobs grant to be used for either salaries or to create positions” says Nowlin. “We would prefer to give the money to teachers who have deserved it.”
Nowlin says it would also include a 2% increase to other school employees such as bus drivers. Teacher Jeannie Whitecotton represented the Highland County Education Association.
“I know lots of people think steps are raises, [but] they are not raises” she says. “When we sign on to be teachers, there is a published scale and we’re assuming that if we our job well, every year with experience we can expect to get at least this much.”
Whitecotton points out that they haven’t had a step increase for at least two years. Supervisor Rexrode responded that a salary increase might not be the best use of these funds in view of possible state budget cuts to the school next year.
“It may not be a raise, but it is an increase to county taxpayers” says Rexrode. “Stimulus money- it can also be used to retain positions. This year in the school budget, the county took out $130,000.00 out of our savings account basically, to balance the school budget.”
Supervisor Rexrode asked the teachers where the money would come from in future years to pay for these increases, especially if the school budget is cut further due to declining enrollments. Elementary School librarian Nancy Vance responded that over the past 2 years the school has returned over $600,000 in unspent appropriations back to the county.
The county has put this money into the school capital improvement fund some of which is being used this year to make energy saving renovations to the school building. The Supervisors are concerned about this surplus in the school budget and would like to get more information about how the school board arrives at its budget request and why there has been so large a surplus the past few years. The Board of Supervisors took no action on the salary increase request from the School Board.
The Board of Supervisors and the School Board have scheduled a work session on school budget issues for Thursday, November 11, at 7:30 PM in the Modular Conference Center.