WS/FCS request additional $40.2 million to increase teacher pay

WS/FCS request additional $40.2 million to increase teacher pay
May 16
00:55 2019

While presenting the local school system’s preliminary budget for the 2019-2020 school year last week, interim superintendent Dr. Kenneth Simington asked the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners for an additional $40.2 million to fund capital project needs and increase teacher and staff pay across the district.

Earlier this month the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board approved a $540 million preliminary budget, which includes $137 million from the county. The rest of the budget will be covered by the state. Every year the district makes a formal request to the board of commissioners requesting funds to address the needs of the district, but this year the district threw a curve ball at county officials when they made a second request.

Simington said the request for the additional $40.2 million comes from the newly established Formula Review Committee, which made recommendations to increase teacher supplements, classified pay, and funds for capital projects. The committee’s proposal shows $15.7 million would be used for teacher supplements, $16 million for classified staff pay, and $8.5 for capital projects, which includes funds for repairs at existing schools and building new ones.” 

“As it relates to the teacher supplement, the recommendation is to move toward moving Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools into the top five average in North Carolina,” Simington said while standing before the board of commissioners.

The request for classified employees would increase the hourly minimum wage to $15. Classified employees are identified as all “non-licensed positions” within the district. This includes teacher’s assistants, bus drivers, maintenance workers, custodians, technology specialists, and several other positions.

Simington said the request for the additional $8.5 million for capital projects would fully fund the capital needs of the district. He said, “There is a list of capital projects and that list is fully developed.”

Commissioner Don Martin, who served as superintendent for 19 years until his retirement in 2012, raised questions about where the numbers for the teacher supplement came from. Supplements are paid to all certified educators to account for variances such as geographic location, market conditions, or school demographics.

“When you take a look at the part with teacher supplements, we’re looking at a target of $7,200 and we’re currently at $4,200.  I’m a little concerned where those numbers come from,” continued Martin. “The question is, is it the actual average supplement that is being paid last year or is it off of a schedule? Because the supplement is based on a schedule and it translates into an average.

“So if you want to be comparable, you have to look at schedules because the experience of the staff changes,” said Kim Slusher, WS/FCS chief financial officer.

When calculating the request for teacher supplements, the committee did look at the pay schedules of other districts, but not everyone in the state. She said she looked at pay schedules in 16 other districts, including Mecklenburg County, Guilford County, Durham County, and Wake County, the five largest districts in the state.

Simington informed the board that they intend to go back and compile a list of the pay schedules from all the districts in the state for comparison and present that information to the commissioners at a later date.

Commissioner Martin also raised questions about the $8.5 million for capital projects. He mentioned the district receives that same amount every other year in the form of a two-thirds bond.

Darrell Walker, WS/FCS assistant superintendent of operations, said the additional $40.2 million they are requesting is for needs that aren’t covered in the two-thirds bond plan or the district’s 10-year capital needs plan that was put together in 2010.

A final decision on the budget isn’t expected to be made until this summer or early fall. Commissioner Martin said he would like to see a lot more information on the request from the Formula Review Committee before he makes a decision.

“I have some general comments, but ultimately I would like to see a lot more information than is contained in this PowerPoint,” Martin said.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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