HCPS staff supplements safe…for now

Published 9:55 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

WINTON – For the time being, salary supplements for Hertford County Public School (HCPS) staff members are protected.

That may not be the case tomorrow.

At their Monday meeting, the Hertford County Board of Education reluctantly agreed to a laundry list of funding cuts proposed by HCPS Superintendent Dr. Michael Basham.

Of the 15 items listed on Basham’s proposal, the board votes 4-0 (John Horton was absent from the meeting) to accept all with the exception of the local supplements. Those supplements (3 percent for Certified personnel and 1 percent for Classified personnel) are worth $500,000 – representing just under 38 percent of the $1,327,978 projected by NCDPI (North Carolina Department of Public Instruction) to be cut from the HCPS 2009-10 budget.

As of late last month, those cuts totaled just over $1.9 million before the NC House of Representatives, in their state budget discussions, lowered that amount by nearly $600,000.

“Although the state budget has yet to be finalized, NCDPI has advised us that we should use this allotment reduction of $1,327,978 for our planning purposes,” Dr. Basham said just prior to proposing his list of cuts.

Topping that list was the suspension of the salary supplements.

“I would rather see us defer on suspending these supplements until we know exactly what the state will do (with their budget),” Board Chairman Ronald Baker said.

Board member David Shields motioned to approve the cuts as proposed by Dr. Basham with the exception of the salary supplements.

“I would prefer not to make any of these cuts, but we don’t have any other options at this time,” Shields said.

The approved cutbacks include (with savings listed in parenthesis):

Suspend teacher signing and retention bonuses ($175,000).

Suspend Summer School for 2010 ($120,211).

Eliminate the position of one Home School Coordinator due to retirement ($27,400).

Eliminate the position of Literacy Coach ($60,172).

Reduce the number of working days for teacher assistants to 180 days ($161,689). Note: Teacher assistants will work on days students are in school.

Reduce the months of employment for eight assistant principals to 11 months ($53,336).

Reduce to 11 months the employment of the Instructional Technology Teacher ($4,498).

Reduce the months of employment for custodians to 11 months with the exception of head custodians who will continue to work 12 months ($50,000).

Reduce contracted security ($20,000).

Reduce travel expenses by setting a mileage reimbursement rate of 33 cents per mile and suspending the reimbursement for meals ($30,000).

Suspend the reimbursement of in-county travel for Central Office administrators, principals and assistant principals ($5,600).

Increase fees for after-school care to $5 per hour from $3 per hour ($8,000).

Reduce the employment of school receptionist positions from 12 months to 180 days ($8,620).

In addition, Basham said the local salary scale will be put on hold based on the salaries in effect as of June 30, with the exception of classification changes. He stressed that this meant there will be no step increases on the local salary scale.

“And for 2010-11 and beyond, I would recommend the elimination of the position of Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services,” Basham added.

As Baker pointed out after the vote was taken…“this still isn’t the end of the story.”

“If the state budget cuts are not as severe, we can reinstate some of these cuts,” Baker noted. “However, if they are more severe than we think then we will have to cut deeper.”

He continued, “If we have to go back and address these supplements, we’ll have to look at either reducing them, suspending them or, and I hate to say this, fire people. These are things we do not want to do, but we may have no other choice with these state cuts.”

Later in the meeting, School Board member Dennis Deloatch praised the HCPS staffers for working together as a team, noting that it was going to take extra teamwork to get through these tough economic times.

“We can get through this; we can all survive as long as we avoid thinking this is about one individual…this is about all of us,” Deloatch said.