The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Caroline school budget includes raises
Caroline County school officials discussed adjusting teachers’ salary steps and providing raises for support staff at a budget work session Tuesday.
The school system wants teachers’ salaries to be more competitive with those around the region, Superintendent Greg Killough told the School Board.
The adjustments to the salary steps for teachers is twofold.
The board is proposing that teachers salaries start higher. For example, this year first-year teachers make $38,166, and next year they would make $38,600. The second proposed change is that each step would have an equal raise of $900.
This would even out the steps. The way the scale is now, some steps have much larger raises, such as $3,369 between steps 22 and 23, and some have much smaller ones, such as between steps 10 and 11, where the raise is $181.
In the current scale, the top is step 34 with a salary of $65,892. Under the new scale, the top would be step 32, at a salary of $66,500.
The are also proposed $500 increases for teachers with additional degrees, on top of their regular salaries.
- A teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 15 credit hours would get $1,000
- A teacher with a master’s degree would get $2,250
- A teacher with a master’s degree plus 15 credits would get $2,650
- A teacher with a certificate of advanced graduate study would get $2,925
- A teacher with a doctorate would get $3,300.
Another proposal for next year’s budget is a 12 percent raise for the school system’s support staff.
This includes bus drivers, clerical workers, custodians, cafeteria workers and others who are not teachers.
The proposed raises for the teachers and support staff would cost $1,392,100, according to a PowerPoint presentation to the School Board.
There are also requests for several new positions—nine teachers, six teaching assistants and three coaches for baseball, softball and soccer.
Part of the discussion at the work session was about how the School Board feels that the school system is underfunded.
Killough referenced a study by the Department of Education that ranks Caroline County 117th out of 136 Virginia school divisions in required local effort. That means only 19 divisions in the state receive less funding from the locality in which they are located than Caroline receives.
Last year the school system asked for about $12.8 million from the county. This year it is likely to ask for $14.2 million.
The state average for the “required local effort” is 84.98 percent, and Caroline’s RLE is 21.36 percent.
“They [the Board of Supervisors] are underfunding us by millions of dollars and we are still having classroom sizes too large,” said Port Royal district’s Tinka Harris.
Killough said that having quality teachers, professional development and competitive salaries “could go a long way in helping our students be college and career ready.”
Part of improving the school system is improving the school facilities, officials say.
In November, 81 percent of the county’s voters approved a measure that would allow the county to borrow about $25 million to renovate Caroline High School and Madison Elementary School.
But the board says that new facilities are not enough.
“We’ve done all we can with what we have,” Killough said in an interview.
He said that more funding and the ability to provide more professional development opportunities, textbooks, and technology advances would gradually help test scores improve.
The School Board will hold a public hearing on the budget at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 at Caroline Middle School. The final presentation of the proposed budget and approval is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 10, which is when the next School Board meeting will be held.
Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413