After pitching her plan to cut some $6.7 million in spending by eliminating jobs and scaling back services, Rock Hill schools Superintendent Lynn Moody on Monday asked the school board to consider reinstating employee raises.
She proposed a 2 percent salary bump for most employees, excluding herself and anyone making more than the state pay scale assigns a particular position.
That would add another $1.5 million to the district's projected shortfall, which Moody suggested could be made up by tapping reserves.
Moody said it's needed to boost employee morale and remain competitive with neighboring districts, which she expects to offer raises.
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Rock Hill teachers are going without their annual raise this year. Other employees haven't had a raise in four years, Moody told the board.
Moody's plan offers 12 key cuts to save roughly $5 million and a list of efforts started this school year expected to save $1.25 million.
To make up for the rest, Moody asked the board to consider relying on reserves or raising taxes by about 1 percent on all properties except owner-occupied homes. An owner of a retail business or a rental house valued at $100,000 would pay roughly $12 more in property taxes for school operations. State law exempts owner-occupied homes from taxes that pay for school operations.
State money for schools has been shrinking for the last three years as sagging sales tax revenues leave gaping holes in South Carolina's state budget.
Without any cuts or new sources of money, the Rock Hill district expects to have $122 million in costs but only $115.6 million to spend in 2011-2012.
The bulk of Moody's spending cuts would come from eliminating about 50 jobs and slashing some employees' pay.
For instance, 56 custodians, who on average make $32,000 a year including benefits, would each lose five hours of work a week and two months during summer. Elementary school secretaries would work 10 fewer days a year and media specialists would work five fewer days.
Moody said she hopes most job cuts will come from leaving positions unfilled, but expects some layoffs.
The school board is expected to vote on whether to adopt Moody's plan at a meeting on April 25. If approved, the district would incorporate some or all the recommendations when budgeting for next school year.
Board members talked briefly about the plan Monday.
Board member Jane Sharp said it was unfair for elementary secretaries to bear the brunt of pay cuts.
"I think we need to look at a more equitable leveling," she said.
Sharp and board member Ginny Moe were concerned about what will happen to Head Start, a national program for pre-schoolers from low-income homes. Moody's plan would charge the organization more to use one of the district's buildings. The group has been paying $1 a year and Moody expects renegotiating could generate more than $30,000 a year for the district.
School board member Jim Vining wants the district to be careful in cutting middle school electives.
"We could end up with just one middle school with that elective," he said. "We don't want to develop a have and have-not school."
Board member Ann Reid wants to find other ways to raise money.
"Is there any possible way to go to homeowners and see if they would tax themselves to help cover the shortfalls?" Reid said. "It's just a question. I don't know if it's possible. I'm a homeowner. I would be willing."
Moody said the district doesn't hear from homeowners willing to do that.
Said Reid: "Maybe it's because we haven't asked them."
Financial Crisis Plan
The plan is a guideline, and savings are estimates, Superintendent Lynn Moody said. If adopted as is, the plan would:
Cut 37 teaching positions ($2.44 million)
Send employees on unpaid leave ($800,000)
Restructure custodial services, including cutting jobs ($450,000)
Eliminate high school academic coaches, home school workers. Cut days media specialists, elementary secretaries work ($309,500)
Redirect money the state gives teachers for supplies ($300,000)
Eliminate four to seven administrative support jobs from the district office ($200,000)
Charge families for student accident insurance ($150,000)
Eliminate driver's education in high school ($100,000)
Reduce parent services ($100,000)
Eliminate a groundskeeper job ($50,000) and a facilities services job ($50,000)
Renegotiate building lease with Head Start ($30,000 to $45,000)