PARKERSBURG — Wood County Board of Education members Tuesday defended a recent decision to not include local pay raises for employees in the district’s 2008-09 budget.
Vicki Squires, president of the Wood County School Service Personnel Association, brought up the lack of a local pay raise during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s board meeting. Squires as well as representatives of the area’s two teachers unions have repeatedly asked for pay increases for district employees using state funds allocated through Senate Bill 541. The board and district administrators declined, saying the SB 541 money is needed to fund other projects and portions of the budget due to changes in funding. The budget was unanimously approved by the board last month without local pay increases.
However, Squires said next year’s budget does include pay increases for some administrators, including Superintendent Bill Niday, because those increases were part of their contracts. Squires said employees believe the SB 541 funds, which Gov. Joe Manchin and members of the state Legislature indicated should be used for pay increases, should be treated the same as funds set aside for contractual obligations.
Board President John Marlow said the employees will receive a raise next year through the state. Manchin and legislators approved a $1,600 increase for professional employees and a $700 pay increase for service personnel.
“Those raises are part of the budget,” Marlow said.
Niday said the state also made changes to “close the gaps” in the incremental pay scale for teachers, meaning some teachers with 25 or more years of experience will receive an additional pay increase of as much as $2,500.
Board member Tad Wilson pointed to recent cuts by neighboring school systems in Ohio as an indication of the need for fiscal caution.
“You have Marietta Schools cutting positions, Belpre cutting the band program, Warren closing schools,” Wilson said. “We do not need to get ourselves in a position where we might need to do that in the future.”