The Oak Ridge Board of Education on Monday adopted a budget that will 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.
The budget passed on a second and final reading on Monday in a 5-0 voice vote with no opposition.
The budget had earlier been approved on first reading, during a special meeting on Wednesday.
Oak Ridge Schools Superintendent Bruce Borchers told school board members during the second and final reading on Monday that he has discussed the school board’s budget with City Manager Mark Watson and Mayor Warren Gooch.
On Tuesday, Watson said he doesn’t have a comment yet on the school board’s request. The Board of Education is scheduled to present its budget to City Council at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, in the Oak Ridge Municipal Building Courtroom.
“We’re going to have to assess what that impact would be,” Watson said.
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 included step increases that would apply to those who are eligible, but it did not include pay raises. Under that budget, roughly 59 percent of the staff would have received no increase.
But the school board can make changes to the budget that has been proposed by administrators, as it did this month.
The roughly $317,000 in additional new money to be requested from the city—on top of the roughly $538,000 in one-time money that the school board would like to make recurring—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 schools also have some federal funding.
The City of Oak Ridge provided $14.955 million to Oak Ridge Schools in Fiscal Year 2016. The $538,000 in one-time money 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 next fiscal year starts July 1.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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