The legislature is not going to fund two instructional days added to the school year in 2007, and because of this teachers are having to fund those days by receiving cuts in their pay, said Perry County Board of Education Superintendent John Paul Amis.
The pay cut will average out to an approximate one percent cut, Amis said.
He said depending on the level of education of teachers and how long they have been working will determine exactly how this most recent pay cut will impact individual teachers.
“Either way,” Amis said, “A one percent cut is significant.”
He said this is not the only cut teachers are likely to see during the next school year. The Kentucky Teacher Retirement System has been lacking funding “for some time,” he said, and because of this, current teachers will be made to fund the system with money taken from their paychecks creating an additional fourth of a percent pay cut.
Sandra Johnson, superintendent for Hazard Independent Schools, said a one percent cut in pay is not very significant when looked at only in a single year, and without adding this cut to the amount of extra money teachers will have to pay into the Retirement System. When all those factors are looked at together, though, the cut could have an adverse impact, she said.
“My fear is that this (pay cut) will snowball,” Johnson said. She said if teachers continue to receive cuts and continue to have to pay extra into the Retirement System, by 2015 they could be receiving a three percent cut in pay.
“When this is fully in place,” Johnson said. “It will add up.”
She said the cuts do nothing to encourage teachers about their importance to the legislature.
“Teachers sense a lack of worth and value from the legislature,” Johnson said. “They feel like they aren’t valued.”
Amis said the cuts in pay not only affect teachers’ salary, but also their emotional and mental health within their job.
“Any time you’re making less money, it affects morale,” Amis said.
Johnson said teachers are also frustrated with this latest series of pay cuts, but she said it does not affect the teachers’ ability to teach children.
“When they walk into the classroom, good teachers put it aside and teach,” Johnson said.
She said because of the lack of a state budget, Hazard Independent Schools are also worried some of their grant programs won’t be funded, and some of their staff is paid through grants.
This will require the school system to issue a “limited number” of non-renewal orders to some employees this year, Johnson said.
“I would encourage the legislature to get a budget passed in special session,” Johnson said. “It’s better to know [how much money you can use], than to not know.”
She said creating a budget for the school system will be “a total waste of (their) time,” because they don’t know how much money they will have from the state to work with. She said that the deadline for the school system to turn in their proposed spending does not change, even though they won’t know how much money they will get from the state.
Amis said this pay cut, and the budget not being passed will not require teacher lay-offs in the Perry County School System, but due to lack of funding for special education and pre-school, “a handful” of those teachers will be receiving lay-off orders at the end of the current school year.
Amis said special education funding was being cut because fewer students require such service now. He said special education will be receiving $300,000 less next year than they had this year.
Education funding has been cut several times during the last several years as a means to try and balance the state budget, Amis said.
He said the Kentucky legislature needs to find a solution for this that does not involve continually cutting funding for education.
“They are going to have to see if there is some additional revenue besides cutting education,” Amis said. “I don’t have a magic solution, but something needs to be done.”