Monday, August 31, 2009

Putnam County BOE to raise Property Taxes, Cut teacher salaries

No matter how the budgeting process ends, one thing is for sure, Putnam County taxpayers will have to pick up the shortfall left in next year’s board of education budget by the state.

Preliminary budget figures for 2009-10, released by Putnam County Schools last week at a Board of Education meeting, show a pending increase in the millage rate and a reduction in salary for all school system employees.

Increased property taxes and job cuts are necessary if PCS is to end the 2009-10 school year with any type of a fund balance, say administrators. The only employees exempt from the proposed 3.5 percent pay reduction will be those making less than $30,000 a year.

“We’ve been cutting salaries for a while, the only difference is that in the past we’ve cut salaries by cutting positions,” said PCS superintendent Jim Willis.

Last school year, the board offered retirement bonuses to eligible teachers if they agreed to retire at the end of the school year. Nine teachers accepted the incentive and retired.

Decisions on what percentage to cut and who should be effected by the cut took up the majority of the board meeting Thursday night.

The reduction will not be from the employee’s overall salary, but from the local supplement that is added to their state-required salary.

Therefore, a first-year teacher with no experience is paid $36,424 prior to the proposed 3.5 percent reduction. If the reduction passes the board, the teacher will make $1,275 less. A teacher with five years of experience plus a master’s degree earns $48,692. With the reduction, the salary would be $46,987, a reduction of $1,705. And a teacher with 20 years of experience with a master’s degree is paid $63,025.

The reduction in salary would be $2,206.

A teacher who asked not to be identified expressed disappointment in the superintendent’s recommendation to cut salaries. “It’s not fair,” she said. “Teachers don’t make a lot.”

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