Board eliminates supplements

Published 12:03 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

At Thursday's Butler County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Darren Douthitt stressed that the elimination of the supplements is not the same as eliminating coaching positions. (Advocate File Photo)

In a cost-saving measure, the Butler County Board of Education voted Thursday night to eliminate all supplements.

The move gives the board the option to reinstate all or a portion of the supplements based on the finalized figures for the state education budget. A proposed state education budget has passed the Senate, but has not yet passed the House of Representatives and has not been signed into effect by Gov. Robert Bentley.

“This is something we had to do before the last day of school,” Board president Linda Hamilton said. “If we hadn’t cancelled them now we would have been locked into that payment for the next school year.”

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This past school year, $97,215 in supplements was paid to Greenville High School employees, $48,156 was paid to McKenzie School employees and $68, 622 was paid to Georgiana School employees. Another $25,883 in supplements was paid out to employees who helped troubleshoot technology problems.

The total amount of supplements paid out was $239,876.

“In a time of great financial difficulty, this is something we have to look at,” Hamilton said. “In order to do that, we have to cancel all supplements, not just coaching supplements, and then go back and look at the things that we can afford to bring back.”

At the board meeting, Butler County Schools Superintendent Darren Douthitt stressed that the elimination of the supplements is not the same as eliminating coaching positions.

“Let’s be clear. We are not canceling coaches,” Douthitt said. “We’re simply eliminating the cost of the supplements in order to cut expenses.”

The possibility of eliminating a portion of the coaching supplements was first discussed at the BOE’s March meeting as one of handful of ways to trim the school district’s budget.

At the time, the BOE mentioned reducing the coaching supplements by 50 percent in an effort to save $106,996.50 a year.

The need to cut supplements is the result of the school district ending the 2010 fiscal year with $1,126,854 in the General Fund. That’s $609,521 less than the one-month operating balance required by the State Department of Education.

Other options discussed at March’s meeting to help offset the budget shortfalls are still on the table.

Those options include McKenzie School being closed and consolidated with Georgiana School for a savings of $151,591.44 in operational costs and coaching supplements; using bus hubs in Greenville to reduce transportation costs by $50,000 to $100,000; eliminating Central Office positions for a savings of $173,685.78; a 50-75 percent reduction of support staff positions for a savings of $567,855.93 to $851,783.90 and an energy costs reduction plan to save $150,000. Other options include restructuring long-term debt, which could generate a savings of $380,000 during the next two years and the use of PSCA Funds for debt services for a savings of $410,000.

Board member Joe Lisenby also mentioned the possibility of reducing the board members stipend by 50 percent for a savings of $18,000.

While other cost-saving measures are sure to be enacted, a decision on McKenzie School’s future is not expected to me made until the Legislature approves a finalized state education budget.

“All the options are still very much on the table,” Hamilton said. “We can’t make any decisions now because we don’t have a finalized budget. We can all look and try to get an idea of what to expect, but the truth is that at this point anything can happen (with the state budget), and until there is a final stamp put on it, it would be crazy to act. We need to wait for firm numbers. Once the budget is finalized, we’ll come back and have a meeting and determine what the next step is.”

In other action, the Board:

  • Approved Hutcheson Construction Co., Inc.’s bid of $25,830 to renovate part of the sprinkler system in Greenville High School. Pemberton, Inc. turned in a bid of $29,240. The estimated cost of replacing the entire sprinkler system was between $350,000 and $500,000.
  • Granted permission to the Butler County Commission to use Baptist Hill School as a voting center.
  • Terminated its right to Dead Falls School, which was deeded to the school district in 1920 by B.C. Barganier. The property will now revert back to Barganier’s descendent, Joey Sanders.
  • Approved the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school calendars.