June 14, 2014 10:51:33 PM
The Lowndes County School Board voted Friday to approve raises for selected district personnel. District officials did not release which employees would be getting the raises, however.
During Friday's school board meetings, board members heard two proposals from superintendent Lynn Wright that could have given raises to every employee in the district. The percentage of salary increases varied by employee. In Plan A, every employee, from custodians to bus drivers to administrators, would receive a salary increase. In Plan B, only certain employees would receive raises. Plans A and B were conducted in an effort to bring each employee to the average salary of employees in neighboring districts.
The board discussed the proposed salary scale for nearly an hour, with board member Jacqueline Gray strongly voicing her support for Plan A. Board president Jane Kilgore supported Plan B, saying she would prefer to see test scores for the 2013-2014 school year before she approved pay raises for administrators.
Wright disagreed with Kilgore, noting the district has been warned by state officials that upcoming test scores may take a hit because of the implementation of Common Core.
"Our test scores from last year are locked in," he said. "We're anxious to see how we do this year, we think we're still going to do well but it's a different set of rules to play by this year. It's going to be an entirely different test that we're going to be taking. If it's going to hinge on that, then we might as well just say, 'You know, we're out of luck.'"
Gray said district employees could not afford to wait another year for a pay raise.
"If we wait until next year, that's going to put us two years behind," she said. "It needs to be starting July 1. As an educator, they deserve much more. At least give them this."
Gray said by approving Plan B, board members were "cherry picking."
School board member Wesley Barrett asked Wright which plan he recommended. Wright said he recommended Plan A with an immediate salary increase for all employees. Plan B's salary increase would be phased over three years.
After a lengthy discussion, Gray made the motion to accept Plan A. Board member Brian Clark seconded the motion. It died 2-3 with Kilgore, Barrett and board member Bobby Barksdale opposed.
Barrett then made the motion to accept Plan B. Barksdale seconded the motion. It passed 4-1 with Gray opposed.
When asked for a copy of Plan A and Plan B, Lotis Johnson, Lowndes County School District Business Administrator, said the copies would not be ready until Monday afternoon.
The Dispatch will have more information when that information is made available.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.
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