High-quality instructional programs and resources for students and appropriate compensation for teachers and staff – those are the priorities at the center of the school board’s newly approved FY20 budget plan. The $142.5 million operating budget was developed using data and the goals of the division’s strategic plan, Elevate Beyond Excellence, to guide decision making.
“The data doesn’t lie,” said School Board Chair Lisa Ownby. “It clearly shows that students are coming to our schools with greater needs. It is our responsibility to meet these children where they are and give them the tools and supports they need to be successful.”
Among the items included in the budget proposal are:
- five additional school counselor positions;
- Additional staffing to address the needs of the growing number of students with disabilities and English as a Second Language (ESL) learners;
- expansion of the part-time social studies coordinator position to a full-time position;
- funding to meet necessary Standards of Quality requirements and other mandates;
- four assistant principals to strengthen oversite of instructional programs, student discipline and professional development for staff at each middle school; and
- a security officer at each middle school.
The budget plan also includes a $3.8 million investment in employee compensation in the form of an average 4% raise for all staff.
“An analysis of teacher compensation compared to surrounding divisions shows that we are 7 out of 9 in entry-level teacher salaries for new teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 9 out of 9 in entry-level teacher salaries with a master’s degree.,” said Dr. Olwen Herron, superintendent of WJCC Schools. “If we want to attract and keep excellent teachers and staff, we must be competitive with our salaries.”
During budget discussions, school board members also identified staff workloads as an area that needs to be addressed. For example, the inclusion of five school counselors in the budget is essential to meet new State requirements for how counselors are spending their work day.
“The state mandate requires that 80% of counselor time be spent providing individual and small group counseling sessions, core counseling curriculum, individual student planning, and crisis response services,” Ownby explained. “We can’t come close to accomplishing that with our current staffing level.”
Full-funding of the budget plan will allow the division to address these critical staffing and student service needs in addition to maintaining vital educational opportunities for students.
City Council and the County Board of Supervisors will consider the school board’s plan as they develop their municipal budgets which include local funding for schools.
“As a Board, we appreciate the input we have received from parents, staff and community members during the budget development process,” Ownby added. “We encourage people to stay engaged as City Council and the Board of Supervisors now consider our budget needs. Continue to make your voices heard and let our city and county partners know that you support full funding for vital educational programs and suitable raises for our devoted employees.”