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Teacher pay a beneficiary in Guilford schools budget request

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GREENSBORO — A requested budget increase that would mostly go toward higher pay for staff of many Guilford County schools has cleared its first hurdle.

The Board of Education voted Tuesday to request a net increase of $25.7 million more per year in annual funding from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. The vote was 7-2, with board members Anita Sharpe and Linda Welborn dissenting.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras has recommended that if the district receives the money, most of it — about $18.8 million — be slotted for increased compensation for teachers, principals, assistant principals and many classified staff.

Specifically, she recommended a $10 million increase for teachers, nearly $3.3 million more for principals and assistant principals and $5.5 million more in compensation for classified staff such as custodians, cafeteria workers and teacher assistants.

School administrators expect another $8.5 million would be needed to match state-mandated pay and benefit-cost increases and pay for increased insurance and utility costs and rising charter school enrollment. Money for charter schools is funneled through the district.

Slightly offsetting those costs is nearly $1.6 million in identified savings, according to Angie Henry, the district’s chief financial officer.

The school district’s total annual funding request to the commissioners comes to about $252 million.

The school board on Tuesday also approved asking the commissioners for $10 million in capital outlay funds for next fiscal year to pay for HVAC upgrades, roof repairs and outdoor lighting among other things. The county gave the district $4 million in capital outlay funds for the current fiscal year.

That does not include bond money borrowed by the county on behalf of the schools to pay for major construction projects.

School administrators expect that the county manager will present his own budget proposal to commissioners later this month, hold a public hearing on June 2 and adopt a budget on June 16. Once the district knows how much the county is wiling to give, the budget will come back to the school board for a vote on June 23.

If the state hasn’t adopted a final budget at that time, that vote would actually be for a interim budget resolution, with finalization to occur sometime later in the year.

In other business:

• School board members voted to approve a student transition plan related to construction of the new Foust Gaming and Robotics School. The district needs to house students elsewhere while the new elementary school is built at the old Foust Elementary site.

According to the plan, Foust students in grades 1 through 5 will attend school in a separate building on the campus of Jackson Middle School during construction. The school is about two miles from Foust.

Students in pre-K and kindergarten will attend Murphey Traditional Academy, which is located next to Jackson Middle.

Contreras said that the district chose to have the students start attending Murphey because it is transitioning Foust to become a magnet-only school, rather than a school that students are assigned to because of their neighborhood. Students who live in the Smith High School attendance zone, which includes Foust, will get first preference if they want to attend the new Foust once it is completed and reopened in a couple years.

Students are expected to begin the transition during the next school year.

• School board members also voted to approve using up to almost $705,000 in federal COVID-19 relief dollars for a new math teacher recruitment program.

The program is a partnership with UNCG and is tailored to the college’s students who are studying to be math teachers.

Students in the program would receive “content area support, residency experiences, mentoring in a cohort model, professional development and paid tuition and fees,” according to a news release from the district.

In return, the students commit to teach in Guilford County Schools.

Contreras said that administrators already have 42 UNCG students in mind as possible beneficiaries.

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.

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