No raises again for county school employees
by Cris Ritchie
HAZARD – The Perry County Board of Education discussed and took action on several issues during their regular meeting on April 19, including an announcement that for the third straight year the district’s employees would not be receiving a pay increase.
While requesting board action on the school district’s pay schedules for the next year, Finance Officer Jody Maggard noted that, again, there would be no across-the-board employee raises.
“I think this is the third consecutive year that the Perry County School employees will go without a pay increase, and that’s unfortunate,” Maggard said. “But with the situation that we’re in, that’s where we find it.”
Maggard noted that the last time employees were presented with a raise, it came in at 1 percent, which this year would equate to an additional $200,000 expense. That is an expense that the district currently can’t afford, he said, and the Perry County School District is not alone in this regard.
“For the most part, districts our size, you won’t see them giving pay raises without additional funding coming from the state,” Maggard said.
Superintendent John Paul Amis was quick to add that the legislature, which just completed work in Frankfort last week, has failed to appropriate any money for pay raises, and there has also been no increase to the state’s basic funding formula for schools. Amis also noted that despite the freeze in salaries, employees who have increased their rank or years of experience will receive increases as required.
In other business, the board took action to approve a construction application for athletic fields at the East Perry Elementary site, currently under construction along Highway 80 in Hazard.
Melinda Joseph-Dezarn, with Ross-Tarrant Architects, told board members that this project will consist of several athletic fields including a football field, softball field and a practice football field, along with a field house.
The board also approved an application for a field house at Buckhorn School, which Maggard noted was approved for a cost of $150,000, though the final cost could be less. He said the district’s bonding potential will allow them to raise the money for the project.
The board also approved a resolution to refund a bond issued from the Buckhorn School construction project, and doing so should save the district more than $150,000, according to Glen Brashear, the finance agent for Perry County Schools who sales the bonds for construction projects in the district.
The board also heard an update from Assistant Superintendent Johnny Wooton, who is also serving as the interim principal at Perry Central High School.
The Kentucky Department of Education recently listed Perry Central as a persistently low-achieving school, and a part of the state’s recommendations was for the school to renew its comprehensive school improvement plan. The plan, Wooton said, will be in effect for the next school year and focus on three things: mission development, concentration on instruction, and communication. He said these goals will be implemented by the school’s next principal during the 2012-2013 school year.
In a related note, Superintendent Amis said he hopes that a new principal at Perry Central will be in place by June. The district is currently accepting applications, and will continue to do so until May 15.
“As soon as we get applications we start interviewing, and we’re hoping to have someone in place by June 1, if at all possible,” Amis said.
In other business, the board also took action on renewing the district’s insurance policy with Corneal Hignite Insurance. Maggard noted that the cost of insuring the district for things like general automobile liability and worker’s compensation actually decreased this year by approximately $7,000, and he recommended that the board renew the district’s policy, which it did by a vote of 4-0.
The board also approved Chris Gooch’s accounting firm in Hazard as the district’s auditors for the upcoming 2011-2012 audit, which Maggard said should begin in June. The board approved a cost of $19,450 for the contract.
Following the business portion of the meeting, the board was set to retreat to executive session to discuss personnel issues when an audience member said he submitted an open records request at the last board’s meeting, but was unsatisfied with the response from central office.
According to Eddie Campbell, who filed to run for the school board earlier this year before withdrawing his candidacy, he requested a detailed statement as to all of the money the district is paying Superintendent Amis, though he said he was only supplied with a basic salary figure and not a breakdown.
“I asked for a detailed statement on the money that is being paid to Mr. Amis,” he said. “I got one basic salary figure. I asked for it all.”
Campbell has been a frequent critic of the district’s leadership, and went on to note that the fiscal court recently went through an open meetings process with the attorney general’s office. If need be, he added, the AG’s office can opine on an open records case as well, though he said he would rather be civil and not have to take that route.
“I can get it the easy way, or I can get it the way Judge Noble got it,” Campbell said. “It’s just an unnecessary media splash. There’s no point in it.”
Amis noted that the central office personnel responded to the request, and Campbell did receive everything the district has on what Amis is being paid.
“You got exactly what we’ve got,” Amis said. “We can’t create documents for you. You got exactly what you asked for.”
Chairman John C. Combs declined to talk about Amis’s salary during the meeting, noting that it is a personnel issue, and the board does not speak publicly regarding those types of issues.
Campbell then remarked that he would be running for a seat on the school board currently held by Jerry Stacy, who was absent from last week’s meeting due to illness.
“We’ve got a PLA board member. I’ll see if I can’t take care of that in January,” Campbell said.
“Fine, you need to get in here,” Combs replied. “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
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