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Superintendent's budget reflects changes in personnel and software, increases in pension costs

February 04, 2013|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox’s proposed $254.4 million budget includes 10 contingency teaching positions, a lead teacher for a virtual high school project, and $828,000 in additional teacher pension costs as the state continues to pass along teacher pension costs to local governments, according to the proposed budget and school system spokesman Richard Wright.

The proposed budget also includes $1.5 million toward new business software and calls for eliminating several Central Office positions due to reorganization and vacancies, according to the proposal and Wright.

Wilcox’s proposed budget does not include raises, but sets aside $535,000 for potential raises as school system officials continue to negotiate possible pay increases with representatives of all three employee groups, Wright said.

Wilcox will discuss his proposed budget with Board of Education members during a 9:30 a.m. work session Tuesday at the Central Office off Commonwealth Avenue.

The superintendent’s proposed balanced budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 represents an increase of a little more than $4 million over the current fiscal year’s budget.

In addition to $4,064,411 more expected in revenue, the proposal contains $3,477,693 in proposed budget reductions, according to a copy of the proposed budget. The proposed budget outlines how the combined $7,542,104 in increased revenue and savings would be spent.

The school board will review the superintendent’s proposed budget before voting, at a later date, to adopt its own spending plan to take to public hearing.

The proposed budget includes some continuing costs added this fiscal year: three elementary teachers, a school nurse manager, two licensed practical nurses, and four high-school lobby receptionists, according to a slide show for Tuesday’s budget presentation. Wright said the lobby receptionist duties at North Hagerstown High, South Hagerstown High, Williamsport High, and Barbara Ingram School for the Arts had been handled by substitute employees, but those positions became full-time positions.

Wilcox has shown interest in a virtual high school project. Last June, Wilcox said he had asked Martin Nikirk, the computer game development and animation teacher at Washington County Technical High School, to help create a virtual academy in which students would have avatars and move through courses as they accumulate credit.

Last summer the school system took over the costs of the school nursing program as the county freed up money to take on a share of teacher pension costs the state began passing to local governments.

The superintendent’s proposed budget includes $827,762 in expenditures for “additional teacher pension transfer from state for FY2014” and a matching amount in local revenue for “teacher pension transfer from state,” according to a list of changes in the budget from the current fiscal year to the upcoming fiscal year.

Other expenses in the proposed budget include $845,000 for a 3 percent health insurance premium increase and $879,000 for the annual cost of a step increase that teachers with four or more years experience — as of July 2012 — received last month. That step increase was approved by the school board a year ago.

The proposed budget calls for eliminating three Central Office administrators ($345,000); five curriculum specialists ($441,000); two Central Office clerical positions ($90,000); three mentor teachers ($270,000); and one senior project manager in the facilities department ($104,000).

Wright said no layoffs were anticipated, but the staffing plan was not complete and the school board still needs to approve the budget.

The three Central Office administrator positions being eliminated are the assistant director for elementary specialized programs and Title 1, a math supervisor, and an English Language Arts supervisor, Wright said.

Wilcox realigned several positions at the Central Office last year, including consolidating elementary and secondary curriculum supervisory positions. For example, now there is one math supervisor rather than one for elementary schools and another for secondary schools.

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