First raise in seven years


UNION COUNTY — After seven years a number of employees of the Union County School District will receive a long overdue pay increase as part of the district budget for fiscal 2015-2016.

The Union County Board of School Trustees voted Monday evening to approve the 2015-2016 budget which projects revenues and expenditures totaling $27,192,371, an increase of 1.09 percent or $289,375 over the current budget of $26,902,996.

Per Pupil Funding

Finance Director Lynn Lawson said that the increase in the revenue side of the budget is due to the state increasing its per pupil funding to local school districts.

“The increase in revenue is based on the state increasing the Education Finance Act funding by adding $100 to the base student cost,” Lawson said Tuesday morning. “This is part of the per pupil funding formula.”

Even with the increase, however, Lawson said the funding the state provides the district is still below the level it was in 2005.

“The base student cost is $2,220 per student,” Lawson said. “We’re making progress, the state is giving us back some of that money. It’s a step in the right direction, but the state funding is still below the level it was 10 years ago.”

Salaries

Lawson said that the increase in expenditures is due primarily to an increase in personnel expenditures resulting from the state allocating funds for an increase in salaries for non-teaching staff. He said the increase is the first non-teaching staff have received in seven years.

“Teachers are legally mandated by the state to receive a yearly STEPP increase,” Lawson said. “This year, all employees, both teachers and non-teaching staff, will receive a year of experience STEPP salary increase. The last time non-teachers received a STEPP year of experience increase was in July of 2008 for the 2008-2009 school year.”

Lawson said that the STEPP pay increases for non-teaching staff have been frozen since 2008 due to the budget crisis the state has faced in the years since then.

Other Expenses

The only other increases in the budget are for utilities and replacement technology purchases.

“We’re allowing for some increased utility costs and for purchases for replacement of technology systems,” Lawson said. “That adds a little over $100,000 to the budget.”

Balanced Budget

Even with the increases in per pupil funding, non-teaching staff salary increases, and allocations for increased utility costs and equipment purchases, Lawson said the budget does not add anything in the way of programs or personnel.

“This budget is balanced and we’ve haven’t really added anything to it,” Lawson said. “We’re not adding any programs or any staffing. The only increases we’re allowing for is increases in salaries and benefits and utilities and technology purchases.”

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