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Uncertainty casts shadow on school budget  

Posted on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at 4:04 pm

John Coffelt

During a work session that followed the regular April meeting, the Manchester Board of Education looked over an early sketch of its 2017-18 budget.

Director of Schools Lee  Wilkerson, however, cautioned the board that the proposal was only an initial draft and could change based on what state Basic Education Program (BEP) figures look like – monies that the system won’t know until the state approves its budget, which is in part being held up by Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposed gas tax.

“This is based on current estimates,” Wilkerson said. “This does not have the new estimates of BEP from the state as yet. We are hoping that in the next week to 10 days we will receive that.”

He said that the system expects additional BEP money, over previous years.

In the first draft, the new budget keeps the same number of teachers with no growth element. The budget, however, does remove two full-time custodian positions that the system hopes to replace as part-time when the new numbers come in.

“In order to balance with current revenues we did not include a raise for certified personnel in this budget, but we do have teachers that will receive a TAP bonus in December 2017,” Wilkerson said. “I know that’s not the same thing as a salary increase.”

This budget includes a 2 percent raise for classified personnel, at a total cost of $40,000, a 10 percent increase in health and dental insurance costs, as well as increases in utilities and heating and air maintenance costs.

The system will maintain its current maintenance of effort request from the city, at $1.6 million.

Wilkerson told the board that while the state numbers are not set, estimates from the state level suggested that there might be a 4 percent raise increase in teachers’ salaries funded fully under the BEP.

“That’s a speculative number, so until we get that, I would really hate to speculate,” he said.