Franklin County Schools Budgeting: Top Money Needs

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Compensation for bus drivers, maintenance employees, and the external aesthetic appearance of the schools and playgrounds topped the list in the budgeting discussion at the June 6 Franklin County School Board workshop. Concern about whether the schools would realize any revenue benefit from the increase in property valuation shadowed the discussion. The board also took up the difficulty in finding employees hampering the continuation of the after-school program.

Addressing the compensation grievances of bus owner/drivers, Director of Schools Stanley Bean proposed two remedies: lowering the trigger point for the fuel bonus from $3.73 per gallon to $3 per gallon and a compensation package increase of 4-5 percent, instead of the budgeted 2 percent. Bean noted, contrary to what the bus owners maintained at the May 16 workshop, they had been receiving an annual percentage increase on all three components of their compensation package, not just the salary. Bean said the $10,000 per route flat rate increase the bus owners requested was “not realistic” if they also received a fuel bonus.

“We’re going to lose these people,” insisted board member Chris Guess. “We can’t run the schools without the buses.”

Board member Sarah Marhevsky suggested giving the bus owners a combination of a percentage and flat rate increase. Another alternative would be a flat rate increase this year and an increased fuel bonus next year, said Board Vice Chair Lance Williams. He recommended a long-range plan that over time would guarantee the bus owners increased compensation.

Framing the issue about the shortage of maintenance employees, Deputy Finance Director Jenny Phillips said the district could not fill positions when maintenance employees retired. “We can’t keep up with what industry pays,” said Finance Director Andrea Smith. “And people with multiple skills [plumbing, electrical, carpentry] are hard to find.” Maintenance employees start at $11.75 per hour. “People who clean houses make $20-$25 per hour,” said board member Christine Hopkins. “Fast food workers start at $15 per hour,” Williams said.

The need to maintain the external appearance of the schools and playground areas, both for the children and to attract industry, prompted Bean to propose allocating $100,000 for a landscaping contractor, approximately $10,000 for each school. Bean also suggested hiring several high school juniors or seniors for summer “work-based learning” in the maintenance department.

The difficulty of keeping the Extended School Program in existence likewise hinged on lack of employees. “No one wants to work from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for $12 per hour,” Phillips said. She pointed out parents typically employed as school support staff wanted to be home then with their children. “ESP coordinator Kim Nuckolls is very frustrated,” Bean said. “We’re trying to make it work.”

“I’m all for everybody getting a lot of money,” Bean said, “but there’s only so much money the county commission gives to us.” He also stressed, giving raises to one group and not the other would result in complaints. “I’d like to ask the county commission for an additional $1 million.”

Smith based the budget on the property tax revenue the schools received in 2020-2021. Although the recent property tax appraisals showed dramatically increased property values for many, the county commission could choose to lower the tax rate and keep the revenue the schools receive unchanged.

“Could we try to get the word out to the county commission not to drop the rate, because we need the money?” asked Marhevsky.

“They won’t do it,” Guess said. “It’s an election year.”

2022 July
2022 June
2022 May
2022 April
2022 March
2022 February
2022 January
2021 December
2021 November
2021 October
2021 September
2021 August
2021 July
2021 June
2021 May
2021 April
2021 March
2021 February
2021 January
2020 December
2020 November
2020 October
2020 September
2020 August
2020 July
2020 June
2020 May
2020 April
2020 March
2020 February
2020 January
2019 December
2019 November
2019 October
2019 September
2019 August
2019 July
2019 June
2019 May
2019 April
2019 March
2019 February
2019 January
2018 December
2018 November
2018 October
2018 September
2018 August
2018 July
2018 June
2018 May
2018 April
2018 March
2018 February
2018 January
2017 December
2017 November
2017 October
2017 September
2017 August
2017 July
2017 June
2017 May
2017 April
2017 March
2017 February
2017 January
2016 December
2016 November
2016 October
2016 September
2016 August
2016 July
2016 June
2016 May
2016 April
2016 March
2016 February
2016 January
2015 December
2015 November
2015 October
2015 September
2015 August
2015 July
2015 June
2015 May
2015 April
2015 March
2015 February
2015 January
2014 December
2014 November
2014 October
2014 September
2014 August
2014 July
2014 June
2014 May
2014 April
2014 March
2014 February
2014 January
2013 December
2013 November
2013 October
2013 September
2013 August
2013 July
2013 June
2013 May
2013 April
2013 March
2013 February
2013 January
2012 December
2012 November
2012 October
2012 September
2012 August
2012 July
2012 June
2012 May
2012 April
2012 March
2012 February
2012 January
2011 December
2011 November
2011 October
2011 September
2011 August
2011 July
2011 June
2011 May
2011 April
2011 March
2011 February
2011 January
2010 December
2010 November
2010 October
2010 September
2010 August
2010 July
2010 June
2010 May