Pay increases for Lawrence school district employees are in the works, as a $138.5 million spending plan goes up for approval Monday night.
Members of the Lawrence school board plan to conduct a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. before formally approving their annual budget for 2011-12. The hearing and the district’s regular business meeting will be conducted at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive.
Also up for approval:
l A new master agreement governing pay and working conditions for the district’s 926 licensed educators, an agreement that would mandate pay raises in two phases: a $250 bump in base salary, payable beginning with the September paychecks; and a $1,000 check, issued just before Christmas.
l Pay raises for classified employees, including custodians, maintenance workers, food service employees, office staffers and others. As a group, such employees would receive what amounts to a pay raise of 3.3 percent, the same general level as for teachers. And, like teachers, 20 percent of the raise would be applied to the base wage, and 80 percent would come as a one-time payment, just before Christmas.
l Pay raises for administrators, working both at district headquarters and in district buildings. The same general formula applies here, too, with compensation proposed to go up by a total of 3.3 percent. Administrators each would get an increase to base salary of $210, plus a one-time payment of $788. Administrators also would work and be paid for a full year, as the district proposes to restore the five days of work for this year that had been eliminated last year through mandatory furloughs.
Taken together, the pay increases would cost the district nearly $2.1 million of the $3.1 million it must spend from one of its contingency funds by the end of June. State law mandates that the contingency fund — essentially a district savings account — must be reduced by that much so that the total remaining amounts to only 6 percent of the district’s operating budget, rather than 10 percent.
District leaders regard the spending as a worthwhile investment in a key resource: personnel.
“Your mission is to retain your best employees, and make sure they feel like they’re valued,” said Kyle Hayden, the district’s chief operations officer. “We want to maintain the relationship, or improve it, as best we can through the annual compensation process. That’s the goal.”
The raises all would be financed through the district’s annual budget, proposed to have $138.5 million in expenditures. That total would be an increase of $18.8 million, or 15.7 percent, from the actual spending for the 2010-11 academic year that just ended.
But district officials emphasize that they don’t plan to spend all the money because they don’t expect it all to materialize. The district purposefully sets its anticipated expenditures high so that it can accommodate required spending — accompanied by any increased money from the state or federal government — in certain areas, such as for special education, or transportation, or at-risk programs.
Property owners in the district would pay a tax rate of 54.445 mills to support the district budget, down 0.201 mill, or about one-third of 1 percent.
With each mill equal to $1 of tax for every $1,000 in a property’s valuation, the owner of a $150,000 home could expect to pay $979.43 next year in property taxes — enough to save $3.47, or about 29 cents a month.
The budget also calls for $13.75 million being available through its capital outlay fund for purchasing equipment and taking on construction, renovation and maintenance projects. During Monday’s meeting, board members are scheduled to receive a report on how the money could be spent.