School employees may know by Christmas time whether they will be getting a proposed 1-percent salary increase.
At the most recent Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Jody Barrow said he was “cautiously optimistic,” that he will be able to recommend the board approve a 1-percent raise.
The idea was originally part of a “budget enhancement” the board approved last month, but Barrow opted to hold off on the raise until the board has a better idea of how much revenue will come in.
He said that “roughly 50-percent” of tax revenue to the school system comes in by the end of November, at which point he will have better information to go on in terms of making a recommendation to the board.
Barrow added that continuing to bolster employee compensation will help the school system attract quality employees.
“We’re being careful, we’re being cautious, but if we can recognize the hard work of our salaried employees, I want to do that. I want to use that so that we can go out and recruit in the spring looking for new teachers. I think that will be a shot in the arm,” Barrow said.
Board member Bob Todd said he felt the school system was slowly returning to where it had been financially before the recession.
“I’m happy to see we’re finally getting back to where we were. Once we get there, then we can go forward,” Todd said.
Board Chair Marion Key said she had heard from some employees who said “they’re finally getting back to their take home pay from 2008.”
The cost of a 1-percent salary increase is expected to be around $1.3 million annually. If it is implemented mid-year, the cost is expected to be in the $750,000 to $850,000 range.
Barrow said the “best case scenario” would be for the board to approve the raise in December and employees started receiving the increased wage in February.
Finance Director Tom Gray said the school district may be facing rising costs in some benefits for the coming year. He said those unknown factors were part of the reason for being “cautious” about approving raises.