The Oak Ridge Board of Education expects to ask the Oak Ridge City Council for more money for a 2.5 percent salary increase for teachers and staff members.
The total amount needed to fund the 2.5 percent salary increase is $855,810, after about $98,000 worth of budget adjustments.
Most of the money for the salary increase could be available if the City of Oak Ridge agrees to continue putting into the budget $538,046 worth of funding that was given to the school system last year on a one-time basis to help pay for a digital device initiative that includes convertible laptops for students, among other expenses. In other words, the school board will ask the city to make that $538,046 a recurring source of funding, as opposed to non-recurring (one-time) money.
The school board will then ask for an additional $317,764 on top of the $538,046, or $855,810 total.
Oak Ridge Vice Chair Bob Eby made the proposal to ask for increased funding from the city.
“I think 2.5 percent is actually a minimum number,” Eby said.
The consumer price index increased 2.8 percent last year, Eby said, and Oak Ridge Schools staff has fallen behind on benefits plans.
It would be a travesty, Eby said, if school officials were not able to give teachers and staff at least the equivalent of the consumer price index, or CPI. Members of the Oak Ridge Board of Education are supposed to be good financial stewards, but they are also expected to provide quality staff, Eby said.
Eby’s motion was seconded by Oak Ridge Board of Education Chair Keys Fillauer. Board members Angi Agle and Laura McLean supported it, and it passed 4-0 on a voice vote. BOE member Paige Marshall was absent.
Agle said the Oak Ridge Schools staff works really hard and gets excellent results, and she would like to be able to give a 4 percent increase.
The roughly $317,000 in additional new money to be requested from the city would be a 2.1 percent increase in the city’s funding for the schools, compared to last year.
Without the increased funding, the city would provide about 27.68 percent of the school system’s funding. Other major sources of funding are the county (27.71) and state (41.06).
The City of Oak Ridge provided $14.955 million to Oak Ridge Schools in Fiscal Year 2016. The $538,000 for the digital device initiative and other expenses was added in Fiscal Year 2017. If City Council were to hold funding flat for the school system, the amount transferred to Oak Ridge Schools would drop back down to $14.955 million.
The “bare-bones” budget presented by school administrators to the school board on May 9 had not asked for any additional money from the city. That proposed budget includes step increases that would apply to those who are eligible, but it does not include pay raises. Under that budget, roughly 59 percent of the staff would receive no increase.
The Oak Ridge Board of Education can adopt the budget proposed by Oak Ridge Schools administrators, or it can make changes, as it did Wednesday.
The budget meeting on Wednesday was the first of two readings, or meetings, on the schools budget.
The second reading and adoption of the budget is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 22 at the School Administration Building at 304 New York Avenue.
The budget will be presented to the Oak Ridge City Council during a special meeting at 7 p.m. May 30.
The next fiscal year starts July 1.
More information will be added as it becomes available.