BOE to consider employee pay raises

JONESBORO — Superintendent Luvenia Jackson has recommended the Clayton County Board of Education grant employees a one-time, 1-percent bonus next school year.

Business services director Lonita Collier presented the board with Jackson’s three budget options during Monday’s meeting.

Collier said the board could see $11.37 million more than it anticipated in revenues for fiscal year 2014. The board is planning for $352 million budget.

Some board members cautiously welcomed the news.

“I’m in a bit of shock — good shock — in seeing the money,” said member Jessie Goree. “I definitely think our employees deserve something.”

Member Charlton Bivins was skeptical.

“I’m a bit leery,” said Bivins. “This is almost too good to be true. Where’d all this money come from?”

The district managed to make mid-year miscellaneous adjustments that resulted in a more than $2 million surplus in revenues, said Collier.

She said it will also benefit from a $1 million adjustment to the state’s quality basic education formula and an $8.8 million increase in equalization grant funding. But there will be deficit spending despite the surplus.

She said the remaining deficit would be about $3.3 million if the revenue projections prove accurate under the superintendent’s first option. The first option is the status quo — no employee pay raises, furloughs or layoffs.

Jackson’s second option is to give a one-time, 1-percent bonus to all employees. That option would push FY14 deficit spending closer to $5.8 million.

The third option is to give 1-percent recurring pay raises. Those raises would push deficit spending to $6 million for FY14 but would cost an additional $2 million to the deficit each following year.

In other words, FY15 deficit spending would be $12 million if raises are made annual, compared to $9.3 million without the recurring raises.

Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Education Association, attended Monday’s board meeting. He said he favors options two or three. However, the teachers’ advocate prefers option three.

Bivins said the board should consider the long-term implications for giving raises.

He pointed out that all of the options would eventually reduce the board’s savings to below its one-month, $27 million reserve threshold, but the last two options would do it sooner than the first.

Member Alieka Anderson gave her support for the second option despite the untold future of the board’s finances.

“Our teachers and employees, they need a raise,” she said. “We need to do something for them. And it will help build morale.”

Jackson said she wanted to jump on the increasingly rare opportunity to give district employees raises.

“We don’t know what tomorrow will bring but this is what we can do right now,” said Jackson.

The board plans to host public hearings on the budget at its administrative building Thursday at 6 p.m. and again May 16 at 6 p.m.