Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education recently approved a plan to expand the 2022-2023 fiscal year budget by $2 million to address important needs of the school district.
On Sept. 15, the Board moved to approve the 2022-2023 budget resolution, which added several points to the previously approved budget for the fiscal year.
The budget additions include the implementation of the Classified Employee Compensation Study, a one percent increase in the certified employee local supplements, additional Exceptional Children supplements and a four-week paid parental leave provision.
The compensation study was conducted in the fall of 2021 by Evergreen Solutions, LLC and showed that CHCCS lacked a well-defined classified pay structure. The cost of the implementation of the study totaled $1,250,000.
The budget additions also included $247,000 for certified supplements. Andy Jenks, chief communications officer for CHCCS, said the supplements are put towards the salaries of various positions such as librarians and school counselors.
Special education teachers and certified employees with the Exceptional Children program received a two percent supplement to support Exceptional Children employees, according to CHCCS. The supplements totaled $175,000.
The final provision was a $420,000 addition to the budget to add four weeks of paid parental leave to promote parent-child bonding and equity throughout the workplace.
Jenks' process of budget-making for any fiscal year is formed through feedback from the staff, the community and those interested in the success of the school district.
He said each of the additions made to the budget relate to its Empowering, Equipping and Investing in Our People portion — a key priority of CHCCS’s strategic plan.
“The strategic plan is the guide that our school district uses to make all decisions involving the education of our students,” Al Ciarochi, deputy superintendent for operations for CHCCS, said.
Ciarochi said the compensation study focused on employees such as bus drivers and maintenance personnel.
The implementation of the Classified Employee Compensation Study also focused on easing salary compression, which is when less experienced employees earn the same amount as more experienced employees.
“We have been below market rate, and there were recommendations made to us on what we could do to adjust our pay scales as well as to fund salary increases across the board for all classified staff,” George Griffin, a CHCCS board member, said.
Griffin said classified employees are important for CHCCS as they act as the support network for the entire school system.
He said the budget is funded by the state, federal and county governments, and the school board requests money through the Orange County Board of County Commissioners.
“All of our requests were to raise staff salaries and to fund staff salary improvements,” Griffin said.
Griffin also said adding funding to the salaries of both teachers and classified employees is important.
He explained that teacher salaries have gone down state-wide in relation to inflation over the last decade.
According to Public Schools First NC, when adjusted for inflation, between 2004 and 2015, there was a 10.2 percent average salary decline for teachers — the fourth largest in the nation.
CHCCS's budget increases for teacher salaries will begin to address this issue on a small scale, Griffin added.
To finance the additions this year, the district used money from its fund balance, which is leftover local revenue from the previous fiscal year.
However, Griffin said the Board will require more money from the BOCC if it is to continue to increase benefits to all employees of CHCCS.
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