Despite the lack of salary raises on the state level, Macon County officials have provided local teachers with a two percent supplement since 2004. The supplement, intended to ease the burden of cost of living increases and the state's salary freeze, has been crucial for area teachers.
For as long as the county has provided teachers with the two percent supplement, the board of education has taken the initiative to provide administrators with the same incentive. Historically paid out of the district's yearly fund balance, the administrators supplement almost didn't happen this year.
When state budget cuts to public education forced the local school districts to tap into the school system's fund balance, the money previously available for administrative supplement was spent elsewhere. With no fund balance to work with this year, the chance of administrators receiving the supplement looked to be slim. Administrators also lost their annual travel allotment this year.
Recognizing the need to offer some incentive to Macon County administrators, Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin went before the board of commissioners Tuesday night.
As they do every year, commissioners allotted the school district $430,000 for a supplement to the district's teachers and teacher assistants. Due to having 20 fewer teachers in the district this year through attrition, the total teacher supplement needed was $401,000. Dr. Baldwin asked the county if the remaining funds could be used to give administrators their supplement this year.
“We need to somehow be competitive to be able to keep our local employees and to encourage them to seek leadership position during their careers,” Dr. Baldwin said while informing commissioners that two administrators left the state this year to obtain higher paying jobs. “We have several principals that could retire today, but we want to keep them here as long as possible.”
Macon County Commissioner Paul Higdon said that he believes the board's job is to support the school board in their endeavors to manage the district's budget as best as they can.
The total cost of a two percent supplement to district administrators would be $27,000, leaving $2,000 from what commissioners originally allocated to the school board. In addition to cutting administrative travel allotment this year to balance the budget, the district also eliminated a $4,000 line item used to purchase steel-toed boots for district maintenance employees. While the boots are mandatory, the cost for the piece of uniform is not the responsibility of the employee. Dr. Baldwin requested that the remaining $2,000 be used to help offset that cost in hopes that an additional $2,000 can be found in the school's budget at the end of the year to pay for the remaining balance.
Macon County Commission Chairman Kevin Corbin, who had previously sat on the board of education, said he knows what it is like to try to make the school's budget stretch and believes that the county has already budgeted that money to be used as the board sees fit.
The board unanimously voted to allow the board of education to spend the remaining supplement for school administrators and steel-toed boots for employees.