School board

Many school employees – those covered under the state’s standards of quality definition – will receive at least a two percent raise as mandated by the General Assembly. Those standards of quality positions – including teachers, school administration, and school support positions – will have their increases funded by the state at a cost of roughly $142,000.

The School Board, however, decided that all of their employees deserved at least some increase – and settled on one percent.  The school division will also cover increases in health insurance payments for its employees.  All of these increases together were referred to as a two percent average raise.

“I wanted to make sure that our staff received a raise and the two percent average was one that was feasible for us given our local funding appropriation,” explained Chairperson Camilla Washington.  “The two percent average allowed us to hold staff harmless from health insurance premium increases as well as set aside funds for professional development,” Washington added.  “We will also be able to provide funding to other service areas that are needed for our students to be successful.”

“As with most school divisions,” said Finance Director Ed Breslauer, “we have many more positions than are included in the standards of quality.”  As for raises for those employees, Breslauer said, “The localities have to pick that up.”

“The School Board said, ‘You can’t solve everything; but make certain everybody gets at least a one percent salary increase,’ and that is what we did,” said Breslauer.

Brenda Pace, Palmyra District school board member, said a two  percent raise for all school employees would be “wonderful and well-deserved.”

“The reality is,” Pace added, “that the Board must continue to operate on funding shortfalls and still meet the challenges of bringing the best we possibly can to our students, our staff, and our educational system as a whole.”

“Aside from raises directly tied to instruction,” said Breslauer, “we looked at the nursing staff, and gave substantial salary increases with amounts in the thousands of dollars.” Breslauer called the increase a “good investment,” which made Fluvanna competitive with nearby school systems.  He stressed the importance of nursing staff who get to know the individual students and school environment by choosing to stay in the school system.  Another area that received extra funds was in technology; specifically, the field technicians’ salaries had lagged far behind those in neighboring counties and saw a substantial increase in order to retain those employees.

“We are only going to get just under $142,000 from the state to do the pay raise,” explained Breslauer.  “The cost to do salary increases for 500 some employees is about $353,000,” he said.  Breslauer explained that food service employees are paid from a separate account, so these calculations do not include the pay increases for those workers.

Rivanna District School Board member Carol Tracy Carr is happy with the raises – but concerned about the future.  “I am pleased that, despite the School Board not receiving all the funds requested in our proposed budget, we were still able to provide a raise for all of our staff that enabled us to qualify for the state funding of its share of a two percent salary increase for all funded SOQ and support staff positions,” wrote Carr in an email.  “I am concerned that this state funding is only for one year and may not be available in the future.”

“Nevertheless,” Carr added, “for this year I’m pleased that we can both provide a raise that recognizes the importance and value of our staff and also enables us to provide them with technology, professional development and specialized support staff in the classroom that all are needed to provide a quality education to our students.”

“People look at the salary scale and think that is the total amount,” said Breslauer.  “You have to add in the cost of Virginia Retirement System employers share, the Virginia Retirement Group Life Insurance, the cost of the employee health credit and FICA and the cost is another $183,000,” Breslauer said.  Altogether, Breslauer said that the increases will cost about $550,000.

“We made our case to the Fluvanna Board of Supervisors that we needed $1.56 million. They were able to find $775, 899. The cost of the health insurance plus the raise came to about $680,000,” Breslauer said.  The remaining $90,000, Breslauer added, would be a challenge to spend because there were a number of positions the School Board wants to add.

“We needed $300,000 of that $1.7 million budget request for our technology replacement cycle,” Breslauer said.  “It took a lot of work,” he added, “and I appreciate that work by the School Board, the county staff, and the county administration to put together a proposal for the Board of Supervisors.” That proposal had the county putting $300,000 into the capital improvements budget specifically for technology that goes into the classroom. The Fluvanna Board of Supervisors approved the move with a unanimous vote.

Breslauer is pleased with the increased communication between county government and the school system.  “We work more closely together I think between the county and schools and community than ever before,” said Breslauer.

“My goal with these salaries,” said Washington, “is to ensure we remain competitive in our area, but also be sensitive to the funding sources that we have available.”





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