On restoring teachers’ pay cuts, Fayette BoE is sympathetic but wary


The topic was whether to restore the remaining 3 percent pay cut to Fayette County School System employees instituted two years ago.

The Fayette County Board of Education in a non-voting work session on April 11 heard the particulars relating to the restoration and were given a glimpse of the numerous financial factors that might impact their eventual decision and next year’s budget.

“Please keep in mind that revenue is a projection,” Superintendent Jeff Bearden said at the outset of the discussion. “The economy over the last two years is an educated guess at best.”

The desire by the board to restore the remaining 3 percent of the larger 4.5 percent cut from two years ago has been the subject of conversation among board members and school system staff since the cuts were instituted, due in part to the increasingly large fund balance that has grown to approximately $19 million.

The salary reduction two years ago came as board members looked for ways to make up a projected $5.8 million budget deficit at that time.

Board member Janet Smola on April 11 reminded the board that they were told two years ago that the school system would essentially be in the red if the 4.5 percent reduction in salaries was not made.

There has been and continues to be none on the board who does not want to restore the previous pay cut to employees. The lengthy April 11 discussion was replete with the insistence that the cuts be restored as soon as possible. In that regard, Smola said she would like the cuts restored now. Some others on the board thought it best to see how other state and local revenue issues unfold in the coming weeks.

The school board in January restored one-third of the reduced salaries.

School system Audits & Financial Reporting Coordinator Tom Gray at the Monday night work session laid out the financial picture for the board in the upcoming budget discussions in preparation for the new fiscal year budget that begins July 1.

Though stressing that nothing is written in stone where revenues are involved, Gray said the potential ending fund balance on June 30 could be $18.89 million. Offsetting that amount to the tune of nearly $12 million are a number of factors, including the restoration of the salary cut, and leaving a potential 2012 ending fund balance of $6.9 million.

Those calculations include the caveat that the property tax digest remains unchanged, that property tax collections and other local revenues meet the 2011 budget numbers and that state revenues for next year equals the initial financial allotment figures for 2011 prior to last year’s budget cuts, Gray said.

Gray said the $12 million offset for the coming year included $5.2 million for the budgeted annual deficit, $4 million to restore the remaining 3 percent salary cut, $1.26 million in former federal stimulus positions transferred to the General Fund budget, $800,000 in textbook needs not covered by the one-cent sales tax and $660,000 in health insurance increases.

Superintendent Jeff Bearden at the end of the discussion said his intention was to continue to look at the variables pertaining to the budget and report back to the board with recommendations during the upcoming budget process that will end prior to the implementation of the new budget on July 1.

A part of that budget discussion will include the amount to be held in reserve.