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Van Buren Schools Faculty, Staff Get Raises In Budget

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Van Buren Schools Faculty, Staff Get Raises In Budget

The Van Buren County School Board passed its fiscal year budget Wednesday night that includes a $2,000 raise for teachers and a $1,200 raise for hourly staff.

Director of Schools Jared Copeland said the teacher salary increase would put the minimum salary at some $45,600 for fiscal year 2025. He said the raise bumps teacher pay above the new state minimum requirement of some $44,000. Board Member Barry Austin said the $1,200 raise for hourly staff like cooks and janitors may not be substantial enough to stay competitive with surrounding districts.

“We have people that make $17,000 a year,” Austin said. “That don’t pay your rent. That won’t buy your groceries. And they’ve got kids in school. They have to pay for those kids.”

Copeland said the hourly rate with the raise would come out to some $13.50 per hour. He said though the raise represents a six percent increase compared to a four percent increase for teachers, the final amount only widens the gap between salaried staff and hourly employees. Copeland said his proposed budget leaves an estimated $2.7 million in the system’s fund balance at the end of the fiscal year.

“It’s just hard to explain to someone why one person’s getting a $2,000 a year raise and another person’s getting a $1,200,” Austin said. “Especially when they already make a third. I mean, they make a third of the pay.”

Wednesday’s approval was first reading on the budget.

Board Member Glenece Cole said teachers have put in time and money to earn degrees in order to reach their position and many teachers in the district have been there for years, compared to hourly staff where turnover is more common. Copeland said he hopes to create scheduled raises for hourly staff to improve retention because as of now, a cook on their first day makes the same wage as a cook with years of experience working for the system.

Several building projects are also included in the newly-passed budget. Copeland said his proposed figures include some $965,000 for projects, some $300,000 of that dedicated to CTE building renovations. A gym floor replacement at Spencer Elementary School accounts for a considerable chunk of the building project budget as well.

“Playing for the worst and hope and praying for the best,” Copeland said. “So, I assume we spend all revenues and then from there, try to save. I know there’s lines we won’t spend out of this year.”

Copeland said the board has added some $1 million to the fund balance since fiscal year 2021 and likes where the system’s financial status has been trending.


The post Van Buren Schools Faculty, Staff Get Raises In Budget appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.