Superintendent Barrow defends more money for fewer students


BoE adopts $192.8 million budget; 3% pay hike for teachers, staff; schools to add 42 new positions

The FY 2017 budget for the Fayette County School System was adopted June 20 on a 4-1 vote. The $192.8 million budget decreased by more than $1 million over the preliminary total a month ago, but it’s still $8.8 million more than this year’s budget.

The final tally represents a nearly 5 percent increase over the current budget of $184 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Barrow defended the increase to the board.

Among the issues Barrow addressed dealt with why the FY 2017 budget is increasing by $8.8 million despite declining enrollment, how much of the increase is in teaching positions and if teacher pay is being increased.

Of note was the former addition of 67 new classroom-related positions. It turns out that only 42 are “new” positions since 25 are existing parapros that are no longer being federally-funded and must be funded by the school system.

Barrow said the estimate of students is based on the student population that is currently enrolled. The estimate assumes no growth in enrollment based on the last two years. The school board has placed an emphasis on reducing class size where possible, he said.

“To reduce class sizes (overall on average), we are adding 8.6 teaching positions at the high school level, 6.6 at the middle school level and 11.5 at the elementary level,” Barrow said. “These teaching positions will cost approximately $2.1 million with benefits. We are having to shift the funding for 25 parapro positions ($475,000) that were previously federally-funded. Sufficient federal funds are no longer available to cover the positions needed to meet maximum class size requirements.“

Also, said Barrow, because of the size of certain schools, the school system is adding a half-time counselor position and one high school assistant principal.

“Since the focus is on reducing class size, we will have seven additional kindergarten classes which means seven additional kindergarten parapros required by the state ($175,000),” Barrow said. “Other certified positions at the school level include 6.3 positions for RtI and ELL. RtI (Response to Intervention) staff support teachers in implementing specific strategies to improve student achievement. ELL (English Language Learners) staff support students who do not speak English as their first language. All total, at the school level the budget additions are $3.4 million in staffing.”

Barrow said the budget also includes $4.1 million for a cost of living increase for all employee groups. Teachers and staff are getting a 3 percent increase. In addition, the health insurance cost for classified employees is increasing $100 per month per employee at $660,000. Other position reclassifications included moving Lafayette Education Center (LEC) clerical staff to 8 hours per day which is approximately $91,000. The 8-hour per day issue was recommended due to the fact that some positions in the LEC staff were 8 hours per day and some were 7.5 hours per day. The change was recommended for consistency of office operations and to ensure equity.

“Overall, these personnel-related additions add up to $8.97 million which is less than the net increase in the total budget,” said Barrow. “The school system worked to reduce some of the operational costs to minimize the increase in the overall budget.”

Another issue addressed by Barrow dealt with how many additional staff have been added to the school system’s central office in the past three years after the previous large staff reductions.

• FY 2014 — Closed four schools and increased class size resulting in reducing school-based positions by 269 and central office positions by 20.5.

• FY 2015 — Increased school-based positions by 45 and central office positions by one.

• FY 2016 — Increased school-based positions by 106 and central office positions by eight.

• FY 2017 — Increased school-based positions by 67 and central office positions by 11.

The requested positions are needed in order to support the increased demand with issues such as teacher evaluation implementation, compliance requirements, accounting and reporting, Barrow said.

Chairman Marion Key was the lone opposing vote, as she had done when the budget was tentatively adopted on June 6. Key at that time said she had not seen some of the information on the staffing of positions such as clerical staff and questioned why some clerks at the Lafayette Education Center were listed at 8 hours per day while others at schools were listed at 7.5 hours.

For FY 2017, revenues are expected to be $192 million while expenditures will be $192.8 million. The deficit will come from the fund balance on June 30.

The fund balance is expected to be $23.7 million, of which $19.3 million will be used for the school system’s 10 percent reserve amount for FY 2017. That will leave $3.56 million in fund balance projected for June 30, 2017.

Approximately $8.2 million of the FY 2017 increase will come in the form of 3 percent cost-of-living increases, salaries and benefits and new positions.

Of the revenues, nearly $97 million is expected to come from local sources such as property taxes while $93.8 million will come from state sources.

Superintendent Jody Barrow at the June 20 meeting provided lengthy comments on various aspects of the budget. Those statements can be viewed at on the school system’s website (