From the GCS website:
April 10, 2018 – Additional funds for safety and security improvements, increased pay to recruit and retain teachers, more classroom materials for student use and support for chronically low-performing schools are among the top priorities in the superintendent’s recommended 2018-19 budget. Details were presented to the Guilford County Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday.
This year’s request includes $4.9 million in facilities funding for door access security upgrades and $500,000 in operating funds earmarked for safety and security. The funds would support equipment and personnel for a command center, as well as incident management and information software.
“It is imperative that we devote a portion of our limited resources to these measures, which will help us not only prevent crises, but also to be more responsive to our staff and students when a situation does occur,” says Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras.
The superintendent’s budget also calls for $9.1 million to pay for increases to salaries and benefits. Of that, $2.5 million would be devoted to teacher salary increases for locally paid teachers to match the state salary schedule and another $3.1 million to boost teacher stipends. Currently, GCS is ranked ninth for local supplements, at about $4,000 less than Wake County and $3,000 less than Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. The funds would also cover changes in health insurance and retirement rates.
New classroom materials in K-8 reading and math, more training for teachers and new software for professional development were discussed by the board earlier this year and included in the 2018-19 budget recommendation. If approved by the school board, the materials will be the first significant adoption of K-8 materials in more than a decade.
An additional $3.4 million would be dedicated to helping the district’s lowest performing schools.
As part of that process, each elementary school would have funding for a full-time curriculum facilitator, instead of the current partial funding. The lowest performing schools would also receive staffing allotments to eliminate combination classes with less experienced teachers.
Ten schools with the lowest performance composite would be included in a teacher recruitment and retention incentive. Staff at those schools would receive an additional $3,000, and teachers could earn bonuses for exceeding growth, meeting growth or if the school improvement grade rises by one letter grade. The 10 schools are Andrews High, Bluford Elementary, Cone Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Falkener Elementary, Gillespie Park Elementary, Hairston Middle, Hampton Elementary, Washington Montessori and Welborn Middle.
“Our budget priorities are largely aligned with our strategic plan goals and will help us reimagine excellent schools, eradicate academic gaps, improve efficiency and invest in our people,” says Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras. “To truly transform our students’ lives, we need to make evidence-based changes that will support continuous system and student improvement.”
The budget assumes the need for an additional $4 million to offset anticipated growth in charter school enrollment, phase out of some federal grant funds and pay for anticipated cost increases in liability insurance.
The superintendent is requesting $10 million in new funding from the county commissioners to accommodate much of the $17 million these priorities represent. The other $7 million would come from reductions and redirections made by the district, including transportation savings from a shorter calendar and not filling vacant positions in the district’s central office.
About $1.3 million would come from eliminating the 10-day extended year calendar for students, which would affect six schools for 2018-19: Allen Middle, Fairview Elementary, Hampton Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, Parkview Elementary and Wiley Elementary. Staff at these schools will use the extra days for additional professional development.
The superintendent is also requesting $12.4 million from the county in capital funding. This would include $7.5 million in maintenance for the district’s 12-million-plus square feet of buildings, as well as $4.9 million for door access safety improvements.
The presentation is the first step in a typically lengthy budget process. The school board will consider the budget items over the next month, including a public hearing on April 26, and is expected to send its budget request to the Board of County Commissioners on May 8, which has until mid-June to review it and make a funding decision. A decision about state funding, which makes up the majority of the district’s budget, typically comes later in the year.
The state’s decision to partially fund enrichment teachers such as music, art and physical education helps significantly, but will not eliminate all GCS costs related to the class-size mandate. State funding for school districts has not yet returned to the pre-recession level of 2008-09. If state funds allotments had continued at that level, GCS would have an additional $22.6 million.