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The Fayetteville Board of Education last week approved a budget of $11.3 million for city schools for the coming year.
Included in the $11,337,199 budget are 1.5 percent pay increases for all of the system’s staff members, not just teachers.
The 1.5 percent salary increase in Gov. Bredesen’s budget was given to school districts as a lump sum of money for local school boards to apply as they see fit. The city’s board of education decided to use those funds, along with local moneys, to give raises to all employees.
“The board has gone above and beyond what the state sent,” Dr. Janine Wilson, director of the city school system, said during last week’s school board meeting. “That speaks to how much they appreciate the employees.”
Linda Dorris, president of the Fayetteville Education Association, which represents city teachers, was on hand for the school board meeting to request consideration for using the funds for teacher raises.
After addressing the board, Mrs. Dorris was told that the school board had already planned to include raises for all employees in the coming year’s budget.
Along with raises for staff, the new budget includes the addition of new teachers – a full time agriculture teacher and a math teacher at Fayetteville High School, a classroom teacher at both Fayetteville Middle School and Askins School, a physical education teacher at Askins and a chorus instructor for Fayetteville Middle and Fayetteville High.
In addition, the system budgeted approximately $200,000 for a new school bus and camera system, as well as a driver to handle a new route needed to accommodate student growth, mainly in newly constructed apartment complexes in town.
The budget includes funds to purchase new band instruments for the purpose of starting a marching band, additional custodial staff to handle the expanded facilities and refurbishing of gymnasium floors at Fayetteville Middle and Fayetteville High schools.
Included in the budget are funds to add computer labs at each of the system’s three schools – “That is, in part, because of a mandate from the state to have on-line testing,” the director explained. “Plus, we’re trying to make use of additional technology.”
There is a significant increase in funding for special education, according to Wilson.
“Part of this is due to the federal sequestration,” the director explained, noting a 10 percent decrease in funds from the federal government to cover special education program expenses.
“We’re not receiving as much revenue (from federal moneys) so that means we have to take up the slack,” she said.
This year’s budget is about $1 million more than last fiscal year’s budget, Wilson said.
“We continue to grow,” she said. “As we continue to grow, our budget is going to increase. At the same time, this is where we projected we would be when we added grades.
“I feel very secure in the fact we’re going to stay the course as projected over the next few years,” she added.