Federal Funding For Schools

Published 4:29 pm Thursday, October 21, 2010

CUMBERLAND – The school system in Cumberland County is set to receive additional one-time only federal money to assist with retaining teachers, according to an announcement made by Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin during this week's School Board meeting.

According to the Superintendent, the Education Job Funds money must be spent by September 2012 and the amount allocated to Cumberland County Public Schools is approximately $390,000.

The Education Jobs Funding, she said, provides federal funding to states to support elementary and secondary teachers, school-level administrators, and other essential school-level staff salaries and related costs. The funds can also be used to recall or rehire employees or retain existing employees.

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This information was provided to the Board for information concerning the new funds being allocated and Dr. Griffin will seek approval on how to use the funds in November at the Board's next meeting.

Last year the school division, due to budget constraints, had to cut 31 positions.

Dr. Griffin will also seek approval for the appropriation from the Board of Supervisors.

“Mr. (Chip) Jones and I have been looking at this for a few weeks and it's really come down to the last minute with trying to figure out the best way to use this money,” noted Dr. Griffin.

Jones is the school system's Director of Finance and Operations.

In the 2011-2012 school year budget, the division is already looking at a decrease of approximately $30,000 in state revenue plus a rise in VRS costs.

“We also need to fund seven staff members currently funded through the stimulus money that ends this year…We have to figure out how to hold onto those people for at least one more year,” she continued to explain to the Board members. “Looking even further ahead, we were informed at the Legislative Conference last week that VRS costs will continue to rise during the 2012-2014 biennial budget.”

Dr. Griffin recommended that the Board consider using the money to fund the seven positions currently provided through the stimulus money so that no additional cuts in positions will have to be made for 2011-2012.

“With all of the 31 RIFs (reduction in force) last year we really have no other positions to cut at this point,” said Dr. Griffin.

A step increase is also proposed for those on the scale earning a step increase, which would also leave money that could be used for a two percent pay increase for the employees this year or either next year.

Cumberland's employees took a five percent pay decrease in the current budget.

“We have been toying with the idea to try and figure out what is best for employees,” said Dr. Griffin about the funding. “We did a survey to get input from the staff to see what their thoughts were on it…”

According to the results, 80 percent of the school division's staff indicated they would like the two percent bonus this school year.

The bonus, Dr. Griffin said, would be given out in December in a separate paycheck if approved.

“We wouldn't do it in the same paycheck,” she said. “We would do it in a separate paycheck.”

School Board Chair Dr. Christine Ross indicated that she thanked the administration for working to divide the funding.

“There's no guarantee that some magic funds are going to appear for next year,” Dr. Ross concluded.