A bill filed by House Democrats in the state legislature could fully fund mandated raises for teachers and other school personnel.
The Kentucky General Assembly last year voted to approve a measure to increase the salaries of school personnel, but at the same time some school district administrators said while those raises are needed, the funds approved by the legislature were not enough to cover those mandated increases in salary.
The 2006 Kentucky General Assembly mandated that certified staff, such as teachers, receive a two percent increase in the fiscal year 2007 and $3,000 raises in the fiscal year 2008. Classified personnel, such as custodians and bus drivers, are set to receive a two percent increase in 2007 and a five percent increase in 2008, not to exceed $2,500. In addition, the legislature voted to add two more days of instruction to the academic calendar, all while approving an extra $32.6 million for the 2008 fiscal year to cover the expenses.
According to some administrators, the mandate resulted in significant shortfalls in their prospective budgets. According to Perry County Superintendent John Paul Amis, the Perry County District is currently looking at shortfall of $300,000.
Now a House Bill filed by House Speaker Jody Richards and other House Democrats is seeking to alleviate those shortfalls.
According to a statement released from the House Democratic Office in Frankfort, the funding approved by the General Assembly was enough to cover the raises, but “unexpected cost increase” has caused school districts to not be able to afford those raises. Funding for each school district was appropriated through the Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) formula. According to Lisa Gross, with the Kentucky Department of Education, that formula takes into account average daily attendance figures, transportation costs, and the number of at-risk children and children with special needs.
According to the statement released from Frankfort, in some school districts student enrollment was less than anticipated and therefore not all funds were appropriated to school districts.
The bill filed by House Democrats seeks to utilize those unspent SEEK funds in order for districts to make up for the projected shortfalls in their respective budgets. According to the release, the bill does not require additional allocations from the state’s general fund.
Richards, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in the May primary, said this bill is “continuing our strong commitment to the children of Kentucky, and keeping our pledge to increase teacher pay.”