Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Is Ware Shoals cutting educators' pay?

A note was published last week in the Greenwood Index-Journal about a proposal to cut educators' salaries to help balance the local district's budget, but I haven't heard whether the issue has been resolved, or how.

This was the original note, by reporter Erin Owens:

Ware Shoals School District Board of Trustees discussed possible ways in which the district can cut its budget for the 2012-13 school year during its meeting Monday.

Though the state's budget has not yet been set, school districts throughout the state could potentially see a decrease in funding should the current state budget pass. To make up for the losses, Ware Shoals discussed raising millage and reducing pay for retirees in the district, though no official decisions were made Monday.

"This is just an exercise in frustration right now, because we have such little information and it's my understanding that we won't get any more information until June," Superintendent Fay Sprouse said.

Sprouse said the district is eligible to make a 3.2 percent increase in millage in the county, which would affect mainly businesses and rental properties. Sprouse said a 3.2 percent millage increase would not generate a significant amount of money, but could help the district. Board members will consider the millage increase and discuss it further next month.

Cutting pay for retired district employees was another option discussed during the meeting. Sprouse said the district has six full-time retiree employees and two part-time, who are currently paid at the 11-year experience level on the pay scale. About three years ago, the retired employees' salary was decreased from the highest experience level to the mid-experience level. Decreasing retiree pay further to the zero experience level next year would save about $81,000 for the district, and would be a 20 to 25 percent salary cut for the employees.

"We value our retirees for their commitment to the district and for their expertise," Sprouse said. "But we also have to make sure we take care of those who are not retirees and that we are able to maintain our budget. We want them to continue working for us for a fair wage, but we have to weigh it in light of all the other things we've had to endure."

In other words, retirees who are collecting their meager retirement benefits while continuing to teach, in order to make ends meet, should learn to eat less to cut back on their grocery bills, turn up the thermostat to consume less electricity during the coming summer months, and make fewer trips to the doctor's office to save on gas.

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