Photo by Johnny Jackson
Empty pews were indicative of the community presence at the Clayton County Board of Education’s public hearing Thursday.
JONESBORO — The Clayton County Board of Education gave residents an opportunity to voice their opinions this week about the upcoming budget year but only two took the offer.
Jeffery Benoit, a former state house candidate for District 76, and Sid Chapman, president of the Clayton County Education Association, were the lone voices at Thursday’s public hearing.
“I wish more people were here and lined up out the door,” said Chapman.
The board is reviewing a $352 million budget proposal, which promises revenue challenges for the district and its employees.
Superintendent Luvenia Jackson presented the board with three budget options Monday regarding employee pay. With the first option, employee pay would remain the same according to state guidelines. The second calls for a one-time bonus equal to 1 percent of the employee’s salary. And the third is a 1 percent pay raise indefinitely for district employees.
Chapman said he thought the third option was most ideal for employees.
“It’s been six years without any increase,” he said. “This district and some of the other districts are finding the money. We really need to take a close look at what we’re doing. We are raising morale — but money and budgets, those things are still gnawing at folks.”
Benoit trumpeted the sentiment. He said school employees do not come and go like holidays.
“Our teachers are not a holiday,” said Benoit. “They come and they stay. I’m asking for a 1 percent pay raise [indefinitely]. I know budgets are tight. However, budgets at home are tight as well.”
The board plans to host its next public hearing Thursday at 6 p.m. at 1058 Fifth Ave. in Jonesboro.