BY KARISSA MILLER

The Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education voted Monday to adopt a proposed $48.2 million local current expense funding request.

The local budget is up from $45.2 million last year, which represents a 6.4 percent increase over the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

I-SS Chief Finance Officer Adam Steele explained that the most significant item to note in the local budget is a salary increase for classified employees, which was mandated by the state budget.

Bumping the minimum pay from $13 to $15 per hour will mean raises for many school nutrition workers, custodians and other non-teaching staff members. The cost to I-SS to implement is projected to be $524,520.

Another focus area of the budget is increasing the local supplement in an effort to retain existing employees. Currently, I-SS is understaffed many people are leaving education or moving to other school systems.

Superintendent Jeff James has continuously updated the board on staffing shortages and has been working to fix the problem.

The budget calls for a local supplement increase by 0.5 percent for certified employees, which will cost the district an estimated $204,474, and a coaching supplement and band director increase by 5 percent at a cost of $40,418.

Steele said the certified supplement will help I-SS recruit and retain employees.

The budget proposal also earmarks $65,565 for bus driver-attendance and signing bonuses recruitment.

In terms of instruction, notable budget items include:

♦ Adding an instructional coordinator position at Third Creek Middle School ($83,352);
♦ Adding 15 part-time teacher assistants at high-need elementary schools ($260,378); and
♦ Funding eight teaching positions out of the local budget that were funded with Covid relief money ($463,628)

The local budget will also fund 3.15 nursing positions that had been funded through Governor’s Emergency Education Relief funding. The cost is approximately $262,450.

Telephones are another budget expenditure highlight. District officials want to switch the entire school phone system to a hosted phone system or cloud-based system. Officials said that this will eliminate the need for ZOOM license and will be cost effective in the long run. The cost is $277,098.

Steele is estimating a hike in employee raise and benefit costs. The district has budgeted $773,515 and believes that retirement benefits will increase by half a percent.

He told board members that there are two big unknowns: enrollment figures or ADM (Average Daily Membership), which determines both state and local funding; and whether or not the state biennium budget will change once the General Assembly reconvenes in May.

Steele also mentioned that the district’s ESSER I funding for pandemic relief and GEER funding will run out in September 2022. ESEER II funding will run out in September 2023 and ESSER III will run out in September 2024.

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