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Bailey presents phased plan to restore teacher and staff pay

Grady County School Superintendent Lee M. Bailey unveiled his plan to restore teacher and staff pay Tuesday night and school board members voiced their support for restoration of pay but took no action on the proposal.
Bailey and Finance Officer Dan Broome presented a four-step plan to hopefully permanently restore the five days classroom teachers and non-certified staff have been cut and the six to seven days that extended contract personnel have been cut.
“Following our budget discussions I asked Mr. Broome to look into how we thought would be the best way to permanently restore employee pay. Over the last five years our staff has been cut a total of about $5 million so that is $5 million dollars the board has taken from teachers and used to fund other things. It is also $5 million that has not been spent in the local economy,” Superintendent Bailey said.
Rather than a one-time payment as has been done in the past, Broome said his recommendation was a phased approach to permanently restore the pay cuts.
Under Broome’s proposal $272,000 would be taken out of the school system’s $3.7 million cash reserves during the 2013-2014 fiscal year to restore two days of pay for all school system personnel.
“Steps 2-4 would complete the process and how and when we put in the other steps would be dependent on several factors,” Broome said.
The school system finance officer said the only way for the board to fully restore the staff pay was for state funding to continue to increase, to have sufficient reserves to finance additional steps or a millage adjustment or combination of the three.
“I’d like to see a permanent fix as opposed to a bonus or a one-time payment. I think this would be a positive step,” Bailey said.
Board member Allen Jenkins said, “I like this a lot better.” He also commented he wanted to see something done this fiscal year.
Board chairman Drew Pyrz reminded the board and superintendent the board had discussed a payment equal to three days of furlough.
Broome explained that adding two days pay would not have a major impact on the approved school calendar, but adding a third day would require additional evaluation of the calendar.
Board member Jeff Worsham asked Broome what would be the cost of three days and Broome estimated a total between $400,000 and $450,000.
Board member Teresa Gee Harris suggested Broome and Bailey go back and refine the budgetary numbers and evaluate the adjustments needed to the school calendar and bring back a recommendation that included restoration of three days pay.
Although the board did not take action Tuesday night, Worsham commented to the superintendent, “You see you have the support to move forward with something.”
The total annual expense to restore all furlough days and benefits is $1,086,000.
Board Vice Chairman Scott Higginbotham was absent Tuesday night.
In related news, on Monday during a special called meeting the board voted 3-1 to set the 2013 ad valorem at 14.2 mills, unchanged from 2012. Board member Harris cast the lone no vote saying the board was not doing what it should for the financial interest of the school system.
Vice Chairman Higginbotham was also absent for the vote Monday night.

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