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School budget goes to board

January 02, 2001

School budget goes to board



By TARA REILLY / Staff Writer


The $9.6 million increase the Washington County Board of Education is proposing for its fiscal year 2002 budget is necessary, in part, to attract and retain quality teachers, Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett said Tuesday.

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Bartlett unveiled the $127.4 million budget to the School Board at its business meeting Tuesday night. School Board members made no comments on the budget.

"The teachers are the key to everything we do," Bartlett said. "If we don't have good teachers in the classroom, we're not going to have any results."

The proposed budget includes $5.3 million for salary increases for all staff.

With respectable salaries for teachers, the school system would remain competitive with others in the Tri-State area in attracting quality teachers. The county has hired more than 100 teachers in three years, he said.

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Pay for Washington County teachers currently is below the state average on every step of every teacher salary scale, Bartlett said.

"We need to be competitive with our salaries. If we can't do that, the quality of our workers will not be what it is now," he said.

The proposed budget also includes:

--$2.3 million for projected cost increases to health insurance benefits.

--$896,000 for 16 replacement school buses.

--$350,000 for increased energy costs.

--$216,000 to replace four contracted school buses.

The Board of Education will hold several public hearings and work sessions on the budget, including a hearing Thursday at 7 p.m. at the School Board's central office. The School Board is expected to adopt the proposed budget on Feb. 6, and final adoption is expected in April or May.

Bartlett made it clear that the school system is dependent on the Washington County Commissioners for funding, comparing it to the way children are dependent on their parents.

"So if they don't give it to us, we don't get it," he said.

He said the School Board included only necessary increases in the budget, slicing more than $10 million from requests from different departments within the system.

"We haven't asked for everything," Bartlett said. "There was almost $20 million requested."

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