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Trenton school board approves $13.9M budget

By Crystal Burns

The Trenton Special School District board voted 4-0 to approve a $13.9M budget for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year at its July 30 meeting.

Board member Doug Smith was absent.

Director of Schools Tim Haney walked the board through last year’s actual budget figures and this year’s estimated numbers. He highlighted a 1% raise in base salary for teacher’s aides and noted that all employees will get a pay increase.

Haney also showed the board that the district saved about $747,000 from the 2018-19 budget, which brought total reserves to $7,379,514.97.

New budget highlights – The district has budgeted about $422,000 for one-time expenditures at all facilities. Haney said they rolled over two projects from 2017-18 – recovering the agriculture shop ceilings at Peabody and resurfacing the roof above the kitchen and old cafeteria at Trenton Elementary. Leaders also included a rollover from 2018-19 – a sign indicating where the historic Freed Field was located behind Trenton Elementary.

Haney said finance leaders cut the one-time requests from principals from $570,000 to $422,044, including principals in the conversations.

“We kept what we really think they needed,” he said.

The district will receive about $280,000 more in BEP money. BEP is the state’s Basic Education Program funding formula for K-12 public schools. Trenton’s total BEP funding is $8,130,000.

Estimated revenues are $12,592,616, while estimated expenditures total $13,928,476, leaving about $1.3M to balance the budget. Haney said the district would use the money saved last year ($747,000), as well as funds from capital outlay, money assigned from debt reserve and a STEM grant to cover the remaining $581,241 needed to balance the budget.

Haney said the district still has a healthy reserve.

Salary schedule – In the teacher salary schedule, Haney noted that the changes made totaled about $100,000, which is $14,000 above the $86,000 of BEP funding the state requires the district to use in that manner.

“We can handle that,” he said. “That’s sustainable.”

The district’s salary schedule is based on education and longevity.

Haney said tweaking the salary schedule for classified employees was trickier but important because they are “as invaluable at anyone” in the schools.

“When I got the job [as Director of Schools], I promised classified employees I would look at what we were doing with them,” he said. “I’ve never liked the fact that our classified people’s salary was the same regardless of years of experience. Whether it was a rookie coming in or someone that had been in that position 20 years, they were both making the same base money.”

Haney said the solution was to raise the base salary by 1% and add step increases that start with a $125 longevity bonus and top out at a $1,035 longevity bonus. Bonuses are given in November. The district also bumped up sick days from six to 10.

“We know we can sustain that too,” Haney said.

There are currently 20 teacher’s aides in the district, most of them at Trenton Elementary.

Board Chairman Dr. Mark Harper thanked Haney and the central office staff for their hard work on planning the budget and “keeping those pots full” throughout the year.

“Y’all do a fantastic job,” he said.

The next school board meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. in the central office.

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