Kingsport Times-News: Wise County school board looks at staff salary hikes in budget
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Wise County school board looks at staff salary hikes in budget

Mike Still • Mar 26, 2019 at 2:00 PM

WISE – Wise County School Board members are looking at ways to boost salaries for non-teaching employees in the 2019-20 school budget.

In a Tuesday budget workshop, the board, Superintendent Greg Mullins and division Finance Director Beth Shupe looked at some preliminary salary scales for bus drivers, maintenance staff, clerical workers, school bookkeepers and central office staff.

Shupe said that some categories of school employees had seen freezes in salary scales in recent years. The scales presented Tuesday were a proposal to help make those employees’ pay levels comparable to other schools in the region.

The schedules aimed to bring at least a 2-percent pay increase to each category of teaching employee in the scales mentioned Tuesday, Mullins and Shupe explained. While most of the scales would cost money to implement, Shupe said boosting pay steps for school bookkeepers next fiscal year would run about $35,000.

Raising pay steps for division maintenance personnel would be the most noticeable increase, Shup said, with a $46,000 cost to increase pay steps. Mullins said the school system requires a range of people with specific mechanical expertise. Replacing a maintenance worker with HVAC system experience would likely mean having to pay a replacement according to their outside experience rather than time with the school system, he said.

Board chairman Larry Greear asked if the same sort of replacement situation would apply to the division’s bus mechanics. Mullins said the same kind of skill and experience issues could apply.

A 2-percent salary hike schedule for school paraprofessionals working with teachers could be done with little or no budget increase, Shupe said, but would keep the current $9/hour entry-level pay rate.

While a final state education budget has not been signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, Mullins said Tuesday was the last day for him to make final adjustments to that document. He said the school board could probably expect some increase in funding for at-risk students as well and additional money for more school counselors. Sufficient money should also be available for the state’s share of a 5-percent teacher salary raise, he added.

Mullins also said he had talked with County Administrator Mike Hatfield about arranging a joint meeting with the Board of Supervisors on the school budget. He said Hatfield said the county’s desire was to maintain level funding from this year to next fiscal year, and that could allow the school system to look at some of the presented salary scale changes.

Asked by board member Donnese Kern if the school board could see some possible budgets based on level funding and final state budget allocations, Mullins said he could present those to the board at their next budget workshop.

The board agreed to hold a 5 p.m. workshop before its next regular meeting April 9 at 6 p.m.

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