GATE CITY — The 2 percent salary increase included in the Scott County School Board’s proposed 2013-14 budget would be the first raise for teachers in five years if it becomes official.
After dealing with several straight years of shrinking budgets, Scott County School Board Chairman James Kay Jessee said he felt the increases for teachers and other school staff are warranted.
“We’re more optimistic about this year than we have the past couple of years” Jessee said. “We’ve tightened our belt, so to speak ... and things are looking good. I certainly hope we’ve turned a corner and we’ll be able to pay them what they’re worth.
“These cuts have affected them these past five years, and it looks like we might be able to give them a 2 percent increase this time. I hope that happens because our teachers work hard.”
The 2 percent raise being proposed would be funded jointly by local and state money.
The Virginia General Assembly included roughly $360,000 in its 2013-14 budget allocations to fund the increases, while the school system is asking the Scott County Board of Supervisors for an additional $544,000 over its required $4.7 million match to cover its portion.
“We want to give everybody a 2 percent raise from the beginning of the year with their new contracts,” Superintendent John Ferguson said. “Teachers, aides, principals, cooks, custodians, maintenance, mechanics, everyone.”
The Scott County Board of Supervisors must agree to provide the extra funding before the raises can be included in the 2013-14 employment contracts.
County officials have not indicated if they will be able to provide the necessary funding since their budget numbers are still in the early stages of being compiled.
The first county budget committee meeting is scheduled to take place in April.
Teachers said they hoped the county officials would be able to find enough money in the budget to provide the raises.
“Any help the Board of Supervisors and the School Board can give the teachers would be great,” Scott County Education Association President Justin Forrester said. “Morale is low where we haven’t had raises in years, and anything they can do would be appreciated.”