$1.4M extra pay for coaches, others scrutinized by BoE


School system salary supplements received some spotlight scrutiny at the April 13 Fayette County Board of Education meeting, leading up to budget discussions in coming weeks.

Booster clubs may be asked to help with transportation costs in some sports, school officials suggested.

Those supplements — extra pay for everything from football coaches to yearbook advisors — are received by 927 of the system’s more than 3,000 employees at a cost of $1.467 million, according to Human Resources Director Reanee Ellis in response to a request by The Citizen.

A small sampling of supplements includes those for elementary and middle school support, technology support, high school extra curricular, special education, social work, psychology and a host of athletics.

Not provided at the meeting, but subsequently requested by The Citizen, was the total of the number of employees receiving supplements and the total dollar amount paid as supplements.

Ellis in an email response said she was unable to provide the information on the total number of staff receiving supplements since some employees receive more than one supplement. No mention was made of the total dollar amount for supplements also included in The Citizen’s request.

“We do not have that information in a format that would not require me to assign an employee the task of counting the numbers of persons (in order to give you an unduplicated count), because some persons receive multiple supplements,” Ellis said in a email to The Citizen.

Ellis, however, followed that email up with one that identifies 927 employees as receiving supplements for the current school year. Those employees this year will receive a total of $1,466,534.

Supplements can range from around $200 up to more than $2,000 per year, though most occur in the range of $500-900 annually.

The extensive breakdown included the various supplement categories, the individual amounts paid for those supplements, the number of staff receiving them per category and the potential recommendations of the committees for use by board members in May and June when crunching budget numbers.

In her April 13 report to the board on the work of the various committees and the Supplement Review Committee, Ellis said that providing supplements for duties and responsibilities that cannot reasonably be considered an integral part of the position the employee was hired to perform was the guiding philosophy on supplements.

The various supplements committees were formed to address the far-reaching types of supplements that span 23 categories. The lengthy report provided a breakdown of all the categories.

Hand-in-hand with the cost of supplements are the numerous ones paid for the many athletics programs.

And while no decisions on any budget items are expected until May or June, the April 13 discussion did include comments indicating the request by the committees to retain all sports programs with the suggestion that the board consider providing some help with transportation issues.

Athletics Coordinator C.W. Campbell suggested that booster clubs might help with transportation costs. But board member Janet Smola had thoughts of her own on the subject.

“I think some booster clubs may not have the money for travel,” Smola said. “I think that before we can obligate the booster clubs they need to know what kind of money we’re talking about.”

The supplements presentation was one of a number of an ongoing series of informational sessions as the board works to establish a budget based on state and local revenues that continue to shrink.

The state’s budget for this year and next will have decreased by 27 percent over the original budget passed for FY 2009, according to Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), while the tax digest in Fayette County decreased by 6.35 percent, or $364 million, in the past year.

Noting the tenuous nature of state finances from which Quality Basic Education (QBE) dollars will come, Ramsey said, “When this session ends and the final budgets for FY 2010 amended and FY 2011 are passed and in effect, the state budget will be almost $4 billion (27 percent) less than the original budget passed for FY 2009. For those of us that support streamlining and reducing the size of government, this has been the largest two year decrease in the size of our state’s government in history both in real dollars and percentage terms.”

Specific to school systems across Georgia, Ramsey went on to note that, “In this budget, the legislature continued to place a premium on holding core services as harmless as possible while focusing the larger reductions and eliminations on less critical areas of the budget.

“In that regard, K-12 education, higher education, mandated Medicaid payments, and the Department of Corrections (i.e., our state prisons) combined comprise almost 80 percent of our budget.

”Over the past three years the percentage of our budget spent on K-12 education has increased from 43 percent to nearly 47 percent of the overall budget. Education continues to be our state’s top priority and this budget is no different with K-12 and higher education receiving a much lower percentage reduction than other less critical areas of the budget,” Ramsey said.