Cape Girardeau school budget may include pay raises

Friday, June 1, 2012

Some staff of Cape Girardeau public schools may receive pay raises in the 2012-2013 school year if board members approve a proposal outlined by administrators during a special meeting held Thursday.

The board will approve the district's budget for the coming school year at its regular meeting set for June 18.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Welker and district finance director Misty Clifton say increasing pay for staff members will allow for moving more teachers from an old to a new 30-step pay schedule, which needs to be done so the base teacher annual salary can increase from $29,500 to $30,000.

Welker said moving teachers from the old schedule is complicated but that the change is necessary because the district wants its base pay to compare with districts of similar size. Amounts of raises would vary depending on the step staff members are on.

Assistant superintendent Sherry Copeland said a summary of districts in Missouri showed many are trying make budget adjustments this year to raise staff pay between 2 and 3 percent.

Hourly employees like food service workers, bus monitors and substitute teachers could also receive raises under the proposal, which Clifton said is also an effort to have reduce turnover in those positions.

Overall, Welker said, the district's total ending balance for the past year will be higher than expected. Operating balances are projected to be 15 percent over operating expenditures, due to two main factors, he said. The operating balances for the end of the next year are projected to be 13 percent over operating expenditures.

Some savings, about $265,000, came from switching health insurance provider effective Jan. 1. The district also received additional funds from the state in November after the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reviewed allocations from the previous year and saw an adjustment was needed due to more students enrolled.

The district will likely receive a slight increase in state funding in the coming budget year, because, according to Welker, the state's formula for public schools will reach 91.5 percent of funding for the year.

Missouri changed the school funding formula in 2005, resulting in funding being based less on local property valuation and tax revenue and more on a set per-pupil spending target.

Welker said school officials in Cape Girardeau, much like those in the rest of the state, have been worried the formula would not be funded enough to prevent cuts.

Areas the board will need to consider for increased spending in next year's budget include expenses associated with technology upgrades like computer lab replacements and completion of wireless networks throughout the district; increases in property insurance and utilities associated with the opening of more buildings under a $40 million voter-approved bond issue; an increase in the cost of bus services; costs for staff training as the district implements professional learning communities; a projected increase in food prices; and the cost of new textbooks.

Welker also said the district should see an increase in tax revenue in the next few years following the opening of Isle of Capri casino, which is scheduled to open around Thanksgiving.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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