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School board to raise salaries
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Teachers and other Newton County School System (NCSS) employees can expect a salary raise for next year, the first since the 2008-2009 school year.

The Newton County Board of Education adopted a tentative budget for next school year at its May 13 work session and now must review the proposed $163.4 million budget before a vote to approve it on June 3.

The budget, which has a beginning balance of $18,838,219 — 9.78 percent less than last year’s beginning fund balance — was presented by Peggy Bullard, NCSS business manager, who reviewed the different options of givebacks employees may receive. NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey and Bullard recommended the board adopt the third (Chart C) of four options, giving teachers and employees a two percent salary schedule increase, removing one furlough day and giving step increases.

Bullard initially discussed the four salary and benefits options at a May 5 meeting, where 12.5 additional positions were also requested.

State revenues are expected to increase by $6.5 million, and local revenues are expected to increase by $1.2 million, totaling $144.5 million in incoming funding. A three percent increase in the local tax digest is also expected, with the millage rate staying steady at 20.

Chart C received a 4-1 vote on Tuesday, which was motioned by Abigail Coggin and opposed by Eddie Johnson. Johnson made a motion to approve Chart B, which is the most “aggressive” option.

Chart C is “more aggressive, but not the most aggressive,” Fuhrey said.

If the tentative budget with Chart C is approved in June, the ending fund balance is expected to be $18.3 million at the end of the 2015 school year.

The first option, initially presented on May 5 as the most conservative option, would give employees a one percent salary schedule increase and take away one furlough day, leaving the ending fund balance at $19.3 million.

Chart B, the option with the most givebacks, would give a two percent salary schedule increase and two furlough days back, ending the fund balance at $17.9 million.

Chart D, another middle-ground option, would have an ending fund balance of $18.8 million by giving a one percent salary schedule increase and one additional work day.

All options include step increases for eligible employees. Some employees, such as bus drivers and food service personnel, have already been given back all furlough days — six originally, with four remaining during the 2014 school year — and will not be affected by this area of the budget.

Final approval of the 2014-2015 budget will be voted on during the board’s June meeting to take effect in July.