Thursday, 18 February 2021 21:40

Richmond County Schools asking for increased teacher supplements, support staff

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Richmond County Schools Finance Director Tina Edmonds reviews the budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday to the Richmond County Board of Education. Richmond County Schools Finance Director Tina Edmonds reviews the budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Thursday to the Richmond County Board of Education. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — The Richmond County Board of Education could be asking the Board of Commissioners for nearly $275,000 more than it received this year for the upcoming fiscal year.

Tina Edmonds, finance director for Richmond County Schools, presented the proposed budget to the board during a work session Thursday evening.

Most of that extra funding would go toward an increase in teacher supplements and two support positions.

According to Edmonds, both Montgomery and Scotland counties, which have lower average daily membership numbers than Richmond, both have a higher supplement percentage.

The proposed budget calls for a 10% increase, which would range from $1,375 for teachers with up to four years of experience and a bachelor’s degree to $2,035 for those with 25 or more years and a master’s.

The supplement increase would cost $136,180.

The budget also calls for the addition of one technology technician at $61,350 and one nurse at $76,400. The costs include benefits.

Edmonds said that both positions could have been used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the challenges within the past year highlighted the need.

The district currently has 10 full-time nurses and nine part-time nurse extenders, the latter of which are only temporary during the pandemic.

Edmonds said there is one nurse for every 654 students. Adding another nurse would drop the ratio to 1 to 595, which is still higher than Anson, Lee and Scotland counties.

Many students, Edmonds said, do not have a primary physician and school nurses can help identify health problems and let parents know so medical treatment can be sought.

“Even long term, we need an additional nurse,” Edmonds said.

In demonstrating the need for a new technician, Edmonds produced a chart showing that the district had around 3,500 school-provided devices (laptops) in 2010 — a statistic that has increased to around 16,000.

In 2010, each technician was responsible for around 700 devices. Now, it’s around 3,000, partly due to remote learning.

Prior to Edmonds’ presentation, Maintenance Director Steven King discussed the capital outlay budget.

While that amount remains at 423,600, King said he shifted some of the numbers around, based on current needs.

The line-items that were increased include:

  • General Contracts-Roofs  — $490,000 ( especially at Monroe Avenue)
  • Canopies  — $55,000 (L.J. Bell, Monroe Avenue, Ellerbe Middle)
  • Boilers, Compressors, Chiller Replacement  — $175,000

The budgets for flooring, general renovations, ceiling repair, window and door replacement and repair, lighting and power, plumbing and toilet partitions, plumbing, site work, fencing and trailers are set at the current year’s costs; and those for fire alarm systems, painting, HVAC and equipment decreased.

Other planned projects for the upcoming year include:

  • Replacing the fire alarm panel at Richmond Senior
  • Painting at the breezeway of Rockingham Middle, the field house at RSHS, and several classrooms
  • Rekeying RSHS, the Ninth Grade Academy and West Rockingham
  • Replacing rooftop HVAC units at Central Office, Hamlet Middle
  • Repairs to parking lots at Hamlet and Rockingham Middle, RSHS; retaining wall and concrete pad for bleachers at Fairview Heights ball field

Local revenues for the school board’s budget account for around 14 percent. Most of the revenue (about 61%) comes from the state. Of that local local amount, 72% comes from county appropriations.

Last year, the school board budgeted $7,873,242 for the county appropriation and received all but $2, according to Edmonds’ chart.

This was the board's first time seeing the proposed budget.

Before outlining budget details, King gave a report to the board on all properties owned and used by the district and their conditions, vacant properties and those that have been sold in recent years.