The Alamance-Burlington school system begins its budget process and the wish list is long

With the new year, the budget season begins.

The Alamance-Burlington School Board will approve a budget request for submission to the Alamance County Board of Commissioners on March 28. The first step was to take requests from schools and departments and ask the superintendent’s top administrators to identify their top priorities.

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The council will give its opinion on February 10 and the public will have their say at a public hearing on February 28.

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About $1.5 million includes the so-called “continuation budget,” which is what would need to be added to the current Alamance-Burlington school system budget to continue doing what it does.

Let’s break this down.

  • $550,400: salary increases

  • $391,000: increased enrollment at local charter schools, approximately 200 more students for approximately 1,800 local children, at a cost of just under $3.6 million

  • $345,739: Increase in pension plan costs – ABSS will have to spend $7,397 per employee on state health care next year, an increase of $378 per employee

  • $130,000: increased cost of school resource officers

  • $50,694: Increase in health insurance premiums

  • $35,000: “Step increments” to support staff salary

Expansion budget: what the district would like to add to its operations and budget.

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Top 10 Office of the Superintendent Budget Priorities

Supplements: The state of North Carolina pays teachers and administrators a base rate, so they don’t depend on local property taxes for a base income. Counties can supplement this base salary to be more competitive, and most of them, including Alamance County, do. These are the top four priorities of the superintendent’s budget and local dollars would pay for most of them.

  1. Assistant Directors: The ABSS surcharge for APs is 11-13% depending on experience, 18th in the state and $98 below the state average. Raising that range by one percentage point would cost the district $60,000.

  2. Principals: It would cost ABSS $40,000 to increase principal supplements – now from 13% for elementary schools to 16% for high schools, $696 above the state average and 17th in the state – by one percentage point.

  3. Teachers: ABSS got its teachers’ supplement up to 10th in the state with years of steady increases putting it $200 above the state average. They are now 10-12%. There are over 1,000 teachers in the ABSS, so a 1% increase would equal $1.2 million. A 0.25% increase would amount to $300,000.

  4. Sports Coaches: There are 333 coaching positions in the ABSS, although some coaches hold more than one. It could cost $100,000 to increase the supplements by $225 per season, $44,000 to increase them by $100, or $33,000 to increase them by $75. They haven’t had a raise for at least 10 years.

  5. Elementary school data managers: They analyze student test data to adapt lessons, have 11-month contracts and face a backlog when they return to work in August.

  6. Athletic coaches: The school board has been talking for years about recruiting athletic coaches to all six ABSS high schools to help student-athletes avoid injuries and their long-term consequences. It would cost about $525,000 to have full-time staff. Contracting for the service would be cheaper.

  7. Bilingual teachers: Implementing elementary language immersion programs at three colleges, Hawfields, Southern and Western colleges, would cost the district $168,000.

  8. Full-Time Elementary School Receptionists: $934,000 to have them in all 20 ABSS elementary schools and the Center for Career and Technical Education. Heightened security protocols are demanding on other staff who already have full-time responsibilities.

  9. Director of Security: $120,000 for a full-time staff member to coordinate with law enforcement and create security plans for schools.

  10. Bus coordinators: $375,000 for seven part-time college employees and three full-time high school employees. They drive but also find replacements for absent drivers and help drivers manage their time. Three high schools already have it. Some of that money would come from state transportation funds as well as local dollars.

Some proposals fell short of top cabinet priorities, but still have strong support

  • $2.3 million to get 25 additional instructional coaches – coaches for teachers – to have them on every campus. The district scaled them down a few years ago by having 12 coaches serving multiple schools.

  • $715,000 for seven additional vice principals for two elementary schools and five middle schools with the goal of having 200 to 300 students per PA. Some elementary schools don’t have one.

  • $112,000 for a third party to analyze test data for the district.

  • $155,000 two additional AIG teachers for gifted students.

  • $60,000 for another registration specialist.

  • $980,000 for 14 more School Resource Officers, which would meet the ABSS goal of one in each school. $466,662 could come from a school safety grant.

  • $60,000 for a licensing specialist in the human resources department to help navigate the complexities of teaching licensing.

  • $691,000 for 18 additional media assistants to help manage thousands of district-issued laptops.

  • $93,000 for a graduation coach for three alternative high schools – Early College, Ray Street Academy and Virtua Academy. ABSS introduced graduation coaches last year to help students stay on track after a year of remote learning and recorded the highest graduation rate in district history. .

  • $112,000 for a program leader for specialized district programs such as bilingual, leadership and arts programs in various elementary schools.

  • $52,560 to pay half the cost of adding a captain to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office SRO platoon on a half-time basis. A lieutenant now commands ORS, but this group could grow.

  • $5.9 million to bring child care services in-house instead of contracting them out. School board members have raised this idea many times over the years when they have received complaints about the quality of cleaning. However, that would mean paying them the district minimum of $15 plus benefits instead of the $9 paid to contractors.

One-time expenses

  • $500,000 for security cameras at four colleges that don’t yet have them. A state subsidy could cover part of it.

  • $250,000 for a generator to run the district’s computer server during an outage as well as air conditioning.

  • $100,000 for three new vans for maintenance service.

  • $300,000 to renovate the warehouse where the technicians work.

Isaac Groves is the Alamance County government watchdog reporter for the Times-News and the USA Today Network. Call or text 919-998-8039 with tips and feedback or follow him on Twitter @TNIGroves.

This article originally appeared on Times-News: Alamance-Burlington Schools Begin Budget to Spend on Principals, Teachers, Security and More

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