Board Approves Preliminary Budget for 2012-2013

Post date: Jun 4, 2012 4:16:03 PM

On May 31 the Bartlesville Board of Education adopted a preliminary budget for the 2012-2013 school year. All board members present voted aye, with members Bilger and Orr absent from the meeting.

Fund Balance Doing Far Better Than Projected

The original budget projection for 2011-2012 had the fund balance taking a $1 million hit. However, revenue was up $659,234 through the fiscal year mostly because the legislature approved a supplemental allocation early in 2012 to fund the Flexible Benefit Allocation for employee health insurance, much of which had been an unfunded mandate. Meanwhile, the budget cuts enacted for 2011-2012, including the closing of Oak Park Elementary School, reduced actual district expenses by $1.3 million over the course of the school year.

The end result is that the fund balance will wrap up the fiscal year somewhere between $5.6 and $5.8 million, or about 15%. The legal limit is 14% so the excess must be spent, although it could go for either continuing annual expenses or one-time efforts. The preliminary budget would reduced the fund balance by approximately $500,000 and is mostly continuing expenses.

Salary Improvements

The most recent statewide data showed Bartlesville teachers were paid on average about $1,000 less than the peer average while administrators were paid on average about $3,000 less than the peer average. This in spite of the district outperforming all of its peers in test scores, even with our increasing child poverty rate.

Analysis of peer district 2011-2012 salary schedules showed that Bartlesville teachers started out higher than the peer average at the lowest steps but their lead eroded until they were below their peers at our top step of 25, which is the last step on the state minimum salary schedule. Worse for career teachers, almost all of the peers had added more steps with the average number of steps being 31, so the maximum earning potential for Bartlesville teachers is thousands of dollars less than the peer average.

Bartlesville Teacher Salaries vs. the Peer Average, 2011-2012*

*Peer districts are Enid, Jenks, Mustang, Owasso, Ponca City, Sand Springs, Stillwater, & Yukon

STEP INCREASES

The adopted budget allocates funding to advance both certified and classified personnel one step on their respective salary schedules. Advancing certified personnel one step is projected to cost $51,000 after a $162,000 correction for attrition savings from the replacement of retiring teachers with new hires. Advancing classified personnel one step is projected to cost $104,000 with no attrition savings. Providing administrators with a 1.2% raise (they have no steps), with additional pro-rating for days worked beyond 181, is projected to cost $29,000.

IMPROVING THE SALARY SCHEDULE

None of that would address how Bartlesville teachers are underpaid when compared to our peers. It also would result in a net $600 loss for teachers stuck at the top of the salary schedule, who received a one-time $600 stipend in 2011-2012. So the budget allocates an additional $146,000 to boost the salary schedule per a proposal by BEA Chief Negotiator Granger Meador. He proposed increasing the schedule by $200 on step 17, $400 on step 18, $600 on step 19, and $800 on steps 20-25. This would make the high end of our salary schedule competitive with our peers, although our schedule still ends at step 25 while the peer average extends to step 31.

Click the image below for a graphical representation of the proposed new schedule:

Note that despite these improvements our overall average teacher salary is expected to remain hundreds of dollars below that of our peer districts since teachers with more than 25 years of experience will still be below our peer districts in compensation.

The budget also allocates $29,000 to boost the career increment for long-time classified employees. Remaining compensation increases in the budget are $5,710 for some additional or increased extra-duty increments and $1,080 for athletic event gatekeepers, etc. The total projected cost for compensation increases is $365,000.

Added Positions

The budget provides funding for the following new positions:

  • One combination math/science teacher at the high school due to pre-enrollment levels
  • An additional English Language Learner teacher for the district since we only have one at this time, far below our peers, and our ELL student population continues to grow
  • Two middle school math teachers, one at Central and one at Madison, which will allow us to stop having to pay some middle school math teachers to give up their planning periods for instructional duties
  • Expand intensive reading teaching positions at both Central and Madison from half-time to full-time to help address Common Core curricular challenges
  • Restructure from a single position, which was unfilled for much of this school year, for instructional technology and student accountability (technology training and student testing). Replace that with two teacher specialists, who would be paid on the teacher salary schedule but with extended contract days. One will focus on instructional technology and the other on student assessment, with a focus on the transition to Common Core curricular standards
  • Expand the Assistant Athletic Director position from half-time to full-time to address concerns about logistics and budget workloads

The total projected cost for those added positions is $261,000.

Other Increased Costs

The budget also provides funding for the following increased costs:

  • An additional $16,000 to fund curriculum updates, boosting the number of hours the district could pay teachers for summer curricular revisions to address Common Core curriculum changes
  • An additional $33,000 for property insurance increases
  • An additional $19,000 for worker's compensation insurance increases
  • An additional $100 for auditor cost increase

The total in other increased costs is $68,000.

Future Challenges

While other districts are howling about how a flat state education budget is forcing them to cut positions and programs, our district has a full fund balance and the ability to fund the above salary improvements, added positions, and increased costs. Mostly this is because we already cut personnel and operating expenses repeatedly in prior years, including the difficult decision to shut down Oak Park Elementary School last year. That decision saved the district over $600,000 annually and allowed us to keep our PreK-5 class sizes lower than many of our peers. However, it could not help how class sizes are climbing in the secondary schools. Many secondary teachers are now teaching well over 140 students per day, with some teaching over 150 or even over 160 students daily.

Future challenges for the district include:

  • Federal Title I funding is projected to fall 10%. The school board may decide to dip further into the fund balance to shore up those programs for disadvantaged children.
  • Another issue is that Jane Phillips Elementary could be designated as a Focus School, requiring that 20% of the district's Federal Title I funding be diverted to it. This would impact Title I programs at several other sites. Again the school board might choose to dip further into the fund balance to shore up some of those areas.
  • Secondary class sizes have crept upward and eventually funding will be needed to bring them back down to more reasonable sizes, such as the old HB 1017 requirement of 140 students per day, which has been waived for all districts for several years. This would require more state funding.
  • Overall teacher and administrator salaries remain below our peer average.