Members of the public can weigh in on the proposed 2021-2022 school system budget on Monday, March 1, at the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education meeting.

The meeting, which is held at 350 Old Murdock Road in Troutman, begins at 6 p.m. 

The school board is scheduled to approve a proposed $46.6 million spending plan, which represents a $1.2 million increase (2.7 percent) over the current budget.

The budget proposal seeks to increase employee pay, and work on restoring local supplement reductions made during the recession as well as provide additional support in the classroom.

Superintendent Jeff James explained that I-SS administrators developed a schedule for trying to restore employee supplements. The budget committee recommended a transition from a percentage-based supplement to a flat-rate amount for certified employees. The cost is around $463,063.

Another budget recommendation is a change of the pay step frequency for classified employees to a two-step increase every three years. Currently, the pay step rate is a two-step increase every five years. The cost is around $270,500.

Bus drivers are also slated for a pay increase to $13.50 an hour. The estimated cost is $37,050.
James said he would like to see bus drivers earn $15 an hour.

The superintendent said the other budget focus is spending money in the classroom and on resources for students.

The budget committee is recommending hiring 25 part-time Teacher Assistant for “high needs” elementary schools. The board is focused on closing third-grade reading gaps by bringing in additional help in some classrooms.

Under this budget, other highlights include:
• $12,000 for I-SS mechanics tool allowance.
• $51,857 for an Interpreter
• $70,900 for maintenance increases
• $84,890 for online teaching stipend
• $84,932 for contracting substitutes
• $92,562 for an assistant principal position at Shepherd Elementary.
• $100,000 for legal fees.
• $245,040 for covering employee raises and benefit costs.
• $320,000 for reduced revenues that the I-SS budget is estimated to absorb.
• $498,355 for six nurses moved back to GEERS
• $664,365 for anticipated reductions in student population or Average Daily Membership. School officials have not received state ADM figures, but the above estimate is based on the district’s 2020-2021 ADM figures.

James said the district is also going to continue to evaluate positions and get them in line with what state allotments.

For example, at the high school level, a school receives one teacher for every 29 students. However, if you have a class sitting at 10 students then that teacher is being paid, most likely, out of the local budget, he explained.

“We are no longer in a time in our economy when local budget can absorb a lot of locally paid teachers,” James said.

The proposal anticipates receiving additional federal CARES Act dollars. James estimates that it will be around $12 million, which will be spread out over three years.