Budget could cost teachers $800K

Catawba County Schools' teachers may not see their performance-based supplement for the 2011-12 school year.

In CCS interim superintendent Glenn Barger's proposed local budget for the upcoming school year, the largest cut is $800,000, from the instruction performance category. The reduction comes from a lack of county funding, he said. If the reduction is approved, it may protect teaching positions.

"All county agencies were told to cut 5 percent," Barger said. "That is painful."

Typically, teachers who perform well receive a 2-percent bonus. For the 2011-12 school year, officials estimated 20 schools could be eligible for the supplement.

"This budget saves teacher and teacher assistant positions," Barger said.

Teachers expecting to receive the performance-based supplement for the 2010-11 school year will get the bonus as anticipated.

"It's painful for me to recommend (the performance-based reduction) because it has taken years for the county to recognize excellence in teachers," Barger said. "I hope the 5-percent reduction can be reduced as (county commissioners) go through the budget."

Another reduction is in mileage for those traveling for the school district. The mileage reimbursement can go from 50 cents a mile to 40 cents a mile, if approved. Some of those affected by the mileage reduction include teachers, psychologists, ESL teachers, social workers, principals, assistant principals, counselors and data managers, to name a few.

Also, according to the local budget proposal, instructional supplies reflects a 10 percent reduction totaling $29,703. This supplies includes items such as pencils and paper allotted to schools for students.

"Hopefully, we can get by without teachers having to take it out of their pockets (to buy student supplies)," said Barger, adding it's not CCS' intent to have teachers fund out-of-pocket expenses. "We are tightening up on some things and hope that will cause (teachers to not have to use their own money) for supplies."

Barger said schools can transfer money from their improvement funds for instructional supplies, if needed.

The proposed local budget for the next school year also shows a $39,034 reduction in technology. However, Barger said the school system is ahead of schedule according to the Board of Education's strategic plan.

"We can cut and still stay within the board's goals for what they are trying to accomplish (in technology)," Barger said.

In addition to the technology cut, the support services department will experience a 10-percent reduction, or $25,425, for repairs.

The total proposed local budget for the 2011-12 school year is $26.8 million. The total amount cut is $1.2 million.

"We made pretty tough choices," Barger said, adding he met with the school system's cabinet at central office when creating the proposed local budget.

Now that Barger presented his suggested local budget to the board, members will review the information, tweak it as necessary and hold a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Annex boardroom. The board will vote on its final local budget Feb. 28 before giving it to Catawba County commissioners.

"It is the board's goal, as well as mine, to preserve the classroom," Barger said. "There's not a lot of things you can do (to not cut teacher and teacher assistant positions)."

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