Schools seek $9-million bump

Published 11:15 pm Friday, March 22, 2013

The School Board approved a staggered bus schedule for district schools at a meeting Thursday night, setting new bell times from the next instructional year. It also approved the 2013-2014 Budget, which is now in the hands of city officials.

Under the new schedule, Elephant’s Fork, Kilby Shores, Northern Shores, Booker T. Washington and Southwestern elementary schools will start a half-hour earlier, and the other elementary schools 15 minutes later. Middle schools will start 15 minutes earlier and high schools 50 minutes later.

According to a presentation during the meeting, the approved schedule was supported by about one in three of those who commented on the three proposals put forth and the current schedule, as opposed to about one in five who supported the next most popular alternative.

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The new schedule is anticipated to save about $400,000 annually, mostly through reducing the number of contracted drivers to 145 positions.

The spending plan board members approved for the next instructional year asks the city for an extra $9 million, and incorporates a cost-of-living raise for all educators and an extra bump for those in their seventh, eighth and ninth years with the district.

Board members approved the new schedule and budget by unanimous vote. Administrators gave them three proposed new schedules to choose from after an initial proposal, which would have saved about $680,000, met with resistance from many parents.

The budget’s cost-of-living raise would cost $2 million, while the extra raise for those in their seventh, eighth and ninth years, in a bid to stop them leaving for more money in other school systems, has been priced at $930,478.

During a public input session Monday, the call for the city to fully fund the school system was loud and clear; but with a decline in real estate values and increased funding requests also coming from city departments and agencies, the city is facing pressure from all sides.

The city manager’s budget proposal, which will include her recommendation for local school funding, is set to be revealed April 3.