Board OK’s Salary Schedule, Budget

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County School Board Tuesday night adopted on a 4-2 vote a revised salary schedule for district employees. The schedule is more in line, according to Dr. J.R. Green, Superintendent, with what was originally recommended to the Board by MGT Consultants in 2011, and clears up inconsistencies within the version of the schedule adopted by the Board four years ago.

“There was a study done in 2011 and we ended up adopting part of what was presented from that study,” Green said. “There were some issues in terms of the increments between steps. Whereas (MGT) recommended a 1.5 or 3 percent increase, we were doing kind of a hodgepodge of increments – 1.5 in some respects, .6, .8, 1.2 – it was kind of all over the map.”

Green said the cost to implement the new schedule, including benefits, would be approximately $500,000, and would be part of the 2015-2016 budget.

“We anticipate on what we have done the last three years we will have a fund balance similar to what we have had this year ($6.7 million), so our hope is that we will get some of that from savings that we are able to realize over the course of the year,” Green said. “What we don’t get from savings, we’ll pull it out of the fund balance from next year.”

That the revised schedule would be implemented in the upcoming fiscal year sparked an outcry of protest from District 4 Board member Annie McDaniel.

“We’re going to have third reading of the budget,” McDaniel said. “This was not presented to us up to third reading and now we’re being asked to approve something that wasn’t incorporated after we’ve had third reading, after we’ve had the public hearing, and that’s what we’re doing?”

McDaniel said she questioned the legality of making changes to the budget after the public hearing, but the district’s legal counsel, Vernie Williams, of the Childs and Halligan Law Firm, said the Board was in the clear.

“The discussion you’re having tonight is at a public meeting,” Williams said. “It’s not like you are trying to take some action without having public discussion about it.”

Paula Hartman (District 2) questioned the timing of the matter and asked why the revised schedule had not been brought up earlier.

“It was brought up last month,” Board Chairwoman Beth Reid (District 7) said.

“A few things about it,” Hartman said. “Not any big changes like this. It was commented about checking into it; that was the comment that was stated.”

Green presented the revised schedule to the Board during their May 19 meeting, including the variances between steps. The recommended salary range for middle school principals was also not adopted, Green said last month, while teacher salaries were not competitive in years zero through three. MGT had also recommended an additional $1,000 for non-instructional personnel with a Master’s degree + 30, and $2,000 for non-instructional personnel with a doctorate degree, neither of which was adopted in 2011.

“We get this Friday and we’re supposed to understand all this?” Hartman said, “That’s awful soon as far as I’m concerned. To adopt something like that, this large of an increase and we don’t understand it does not make any sense, and get it Friday and then we’re expected to vote on it on Tuesday.”

Green said he had sent the final revised salary schedule to Board members earlier in the week, not Friday. McDaniel, while asking several times to see the presentation again, said she was concerned about the effectiveness of the new schedule and its ultimate fairness.

“I’m just asking to be able to verify the validity,” McDaniel said. “That’s all I’m asking.”

Green said that with the exception of teachers and hourly employees, steps will be determined by year-end evaluations, something that also concerned McDaniel.

“Now it sounds like we’re saying that if employees are not going to, for lack of a better word, kiss up to their supervisors, then their subject to (not) get a better evaluation and then they can’t get a step,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel and Hartman ultimately voted against the revised schedule.

Budget

The Board also passed third and final reading of a $37,401,195 general fund budget. The operational budget includes no millage increase, holding at 203.1 mills, while the debt service millage will decrease slightly from 32 to 23.6 mills.

McDaniel and Hartman voted against the measure.

To hold the district over until tax bills go out and money begins to flow into the district, the Board unanimously passed a Tax Anticipation Notice (TAN), not to exceed $6,275,000.

William Frick (District 6) asked if it were possible that this might be one of the last TANs he has to vote for.

“No,” Hartman quipped, “you just gave it away in all this salary.”