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Superintendent wants some exempt from pay cuts
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Hall County schools Superintendent Will Schofield said Wednesday he is recommending nurses, paraprofessionals and national board-certified teachers be exempt from an anticipated 2 percent to 3 percent pay cut this upcoming school year.

While the Hall County Board of Education has not yet taken action on systemwide pay cuts, Schofield said he and Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett are reviewing a recommendation to the school board that would cut employees’ salaries 2.4 percent. The cut would generate about $3.9 million of savings, Schofield said in an e-mail.

A school system worker who made $50,000 this past school year, for example, would make $48,800 in the upcoming school year if the 2.4 percent pay cut was approved.

Schofield said the groups being considered for a pay cut exemption are slated for other substantial blows to their income.

He said paraprofessionals will have their days cut from 190 to 183 in the 2009-10 school year. And nurses already are experiencing a 7 percent cut because they are losing a half hour each day in the upcoming school year. National board-certified teachers also may lose a "significant portion" of their state-promised 10 percent supplement, Schofield said.

The proposed 2.4 percent pay cut to employees’ gross income would come from the local portion of employee salaries. Schofield said the school board hopes to be able to announce a concrete pay cut figure in the next 30 days.

The Hall County system absorbed more than $6 million in state cuts during fiscal year 2009, which ends June 30.

Schofield said when the system closes this fiscal year’s books in June, he expects the system to have spent $4 million less than it budgeted for this year. But local sources of revenue, including intangible taxes, real estate transfer taxes and investments on fund balances have been "devastated" and will come in about $1.5 million short.

The system began fiscal year 2009 with a more than $13 million surplus according to the tentative 2010 budget. Schofield said state austerity cuts this year ate into the system’s surplus.

"With all of the cuts we have already implemented, we remain dangerously close to depleting our reserves if the governor initiates any additional austerity cuts in the upcoming year," Schofield said.

The school system operated on a $218 million budget this fiscal year, and hopes to whittle next fiscal year’s budget to about $207 million. The school system should have a roughly $4 million to $6 million surplus at the end of fiscal year 2009.

Schofield said the fiscal year 2010 budget he is recommending to the school board does not include any property tax increases.

The school board is slated to discuss the budget at 4 p.m. Monday. The board plans to adopt an initial budget on June 8 and adopt a final budget June 25.

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