Madison County approves raises for teachers, staff but board says it’ll create budget strain

Madison County approves raises for teachers, staff but board says it’ll create budget strain
Published: May. 26, 2022 at 11:34 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - The Madison County Board of Education has become the latest school district to approve raises for teachers and staff.

A three percent raise will go into effect for certified staff, and an extra dollar an hour for classified staff.

In a meeting Thursday night, the board says teachers deserve the raises, but it is going to strain their budget.

All Kentucky districts are being given an increase in SEEK funding, which is set to help cover the costs for district-based raises. The Kentucky legislature did not include across-the-board raises for teachers in the latest state budget.

That creates an issue in Madison County. Officials say the county is seeing a drop in funding as a whole because they’re having to rely more on the county’s growing tax base.

Raises for teachers are expected to cost the district an additional $3.2 million. The district said the new SEEK funding is for $1.26 million.

The district will have to dip into its contingency fund to make these raises happen.

The district’s chief financial officer told the board he believes the district can make this work, but they’ll have to be very vigilant with every penny spent.

The board chair told WKYT’s Chad Hedrick not giving a raise was never an option.

“We always want to give our teachers raises. They deserve it. I’m not going to misconstrue that,” said Brandon Rutherford, the chair of the Madison County board of education. “As a public service myself, we have a fine line of what the budget allows us to do. We have to live within our means.”

The raise that Madison County approved matches raises many districts in Central Kentucky have approved.

One teacher is calling on districts that are proposing smaller or no raises to step up as teachers are looking to leave districts or the state altogether.

Allison Slone who leads the statewide group, Kentucky Teachers in the Know tweeted this week reminding districts that if they didn’t offer suitable wages, there are districts who would gladly hire their teachers.

“Many districts have not given raises or any cost of living increase for like 10 plus years,” said Slone. “Some have tried to give at least one percent or two percent as much as they could when they could. But with the cost of living increases, we’re really making less than what we’re making 10 years ago.”

As Kentucky school districts pass a wide range of raises, Slone is hoping the investments are made to recruit and retain teachers.

“I’ve told lots of teachers there’s other districts.”

In Rowan county, Slone is pleased to see the three percent raise her district has approved. In a series of tweets this week, Slone pushed other districts to follow the lead of her district and others.

The Kentucky Department of Education says there has even been a decline of people entering the profession...saying universities are seeing a drop in enrollment in education programs. but still face challenges with students they do have.

“They still have a hard time getting those people to take teaching jobs because at the point of graduation, they look at their options inside kentucky and outside, and in other fields, and they make rational decisions,” said Education Commissioner, Dr. Jason Glass.

For those in the job now, Slone says it’s not easy to walk away.

“This isn’t an us vs. them. It should be all of us together and fighting for this profession.”

The Madison County Board of Education has become the latest school district to approve raises for teachers and staff.

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