Coweta Board of Education

Extra state funds helps schools pay it forward

by Celia Shortt

Restoration of one paid teacher day as well as a step increase for all classified employees were approved by the Coweta County Board of Education in its draft budget for the 2015 fiscal year.

Keith Chapman, assistant superintendent for financial services for the Coweta County School System, presented the budget overview for their 2015 fiscal year at the monthly board of education meeting Tuesday.

In the overview, he included the step increase for classified employees and removing one of the calendar reduction days for teachers and other employees who work more than 180 days.

“It would be great to be able to do more,” said Coweta County School Superintendent Dr. Steve Barker. “But right now, in light of … what we’re looking at, I think it’s a very responsible approach for us to take.”

Classified employees have had their pay rate frozen for the last five years, and therefore have not had any salary increase in that time. This step increase is based on each employee’s individual experience.

Classified employees are ones without a teacher’s certificate, such as secretaries, bus drivers and teacher’s assistants.

This moves are possible because of a $4.1 million increase in money from the state.

“We don’t know if next year that money will be there or not, but it is there this year,” said Barker.

“This is by far the most responsible way we think we can touch all our employees and wisely use those funds,” he added.

The school system will also be maintaining the experiential step increases for those employees on the Georgia’s teacher pay scale.

Despite increasing the income to the school system, the state is still maintaining a $9.6 million austerity reduction for the 2015 fiscal year.

“While things are better, there is still a lot of money on the table we have earned but are not receiving,” said Coweta County School System Assistant Superintendent for Financial Services Keith Chapman.

The 2015 fiscal year budget overview also includes a 180-day instructional year.

“I think it’s extremely important with districts that have a 165-day school year… we are able to budget and keep that 180 days since the board goal is student achievement,” said board member Amy Dees. “I’m very proud we’ve been able to do that.”

The draft 2015 fiscal year budget will be presented to the school board in early summer.

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