Kanawha County school board approves next year’s budget

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Kanawha County Board of Education approved a $236 million budget for the 2015-2016 school year Tuesday, including raises for teachers, administrators and service personnel.

Robin Rector, president of the school board, said teachers, principals and assistant principals will receive a 2% pay increase, based on their salaries. Service personnel will receive a 1% raise.

The budget was passed in a 4-1 vote, with board member Pete Thaw voting against the measure. Thaw was opposed to the raises saying the board simply can’t afford it, after issuing a more than $11,000 raise to teachers and principals just a few months ago.

Thaw said the board is handing out raises after taxpayers voted against it over a year ago.

“I’m against Kanawha County doing what the other counties aren’t doing. We can’t afford it any better than anybody else. We have no business doing this,” said Thaw.

Middle and high school principals who attend extracurricular activities would also be recognized for their additional work, according to the budget. Rector said they would use $500,000 and provide new contracts, since there have been more functions than expected in recent years.

“You have choices. You can either cut back some of those (activities) or you can provide the resources to assure the appropriate supervision and direction is there and that’s what we’re attempting to do,” said Rector.

Thaw said principals shouldn’t “suddenly need more money to do what everybody else has been doing,” but Rector said they wanted to keep the salaries competitive after they discovered how much they were falling behind compared to other nearby counties.

“We want to ensure that those teachers, service personnel and administrators that want to work in Kanawha County stay in Kanawha County and are not at a disadvantage, financially,” said Rector.

A total of $300,000 will be cut from the maintenance budget in order to pay principals for supervising activities, something Rector did not see as a problem.

“There are always a number of departments that see decreases in their operating dollars for the next year. If we find we have problems, then we will go back and look at the budget again, but that’s something that any organization does on a regular basis,” she said.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for June 8.