School System Facing Budget Concerns

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

One Eastern Kentucky school district says there's not enough money in the budget to give teacher raises next year. Officials at the Pike County School System are trying to make the budget work.

Judy Looney has been teaching for 28 years. She believes she and all of her co-workers deserve their state mandated raises next year. But those raises could end up costing some teachers their jobs. Pike County School administrators say they don't have enough money to cover payroll next year with the raises included.

"The intent was good and certainly the legislature should be commended for that, but what it does is create a burden for the local districts," said Roger Wagner, Pike County Superintendent.

Wagner says they may have to cut more than one hundred teachers.

"We've grown. We have more students than we had last year. I feel like we need all of our teachers," Looney said.

School officials say they're doing all they can to avoid it. They cut back on a lot of spending this year, travel less, and are trying to reduce electric and water bills. So far they've saved five thousand dollars.

"It is well and good, but it won't get us to where we need to be," Wagner said.

The superintendent is asking teachers eligible to retire to retire this year to help reduce staff for next year, but he isn't sure if it will be enough. He says they won't have any final decisions on layoffs for another few weeks.

"I feel confident it's not gonna affect us where we can't deliver the quality of instruction everyday," said Mullins Elementary Principal Phillip Birchfield.

Officials say no matter what happens, children's education will not be affected.

The superintendent says the school board will hold a series of meetings starting next week. The public is invited to attend.

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