Schools expect continued delays in state funding
By Amber Revels-Stocks
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Pitt County Schools’ final budget and pay raises likely will be delayed for several more weeks even though the state House voted last week to override a veto that’s but state funding on hold, officials said.
The state House on Wednesday voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the state budget, which provides funding to state agencies including school systems and promised teachers and principals small raises.
County school administrators told members of the Pitt County Board of Education that Wednesday’s vote must be followed by a vote by the state Senate then allocation of funds by the Department of Public Instruction.
“We thought we’d see a vote this week, but it might be a week or two,” said Debra Baggett, the district’s chief finance officer told board members at their monthly workshop.
The state budget includes an approximately 2 percent increase to the teacher salary schedule, an increase in principal and assistant principal pay and a 1 percent increase to classified staff pay. These changes were supposed to go into effect on July 1, the deadline for passing the budget.
Once the budget is passed, DPI has 10 business days to turn around the numbers and inform each district of its allotment, according to Baggett.
“Even once the state passes a budget, we’re still in a holding pattern. We have to move forward from that point, so we wouldn’t have a budget before October,” Baggett said. “Even if they pass a budget tomorrow, we wouldn’t have time to turn it around in September.
“Any pay changes will be seen at earliest in October and will be retroactive to July 1.”
School staff who receive an increase will receive two checks after the budget is passed. One will be their regular check showing an increase. The other will be a lump sum payment of the retroactive pay.
“There’s a lot involved in changing pay tables and steps, and you have to make sure all retroactive pay is accurate,” Baggett said. “I’d rather take the extra time and get it right.”
Baggett also has scheduled a meeting with Class Wallet, she said. The app gives teachers $150 for school supplies, which can either be purchased through the app or be reimbursed through it.
“We’re making steps to get everything in place so we can be ahead of the curve once the budget goes through and Class Wallet is available to everyone,” Baggett said.
The finance department also is looking into changing its bookkeeping system, she said.
“Right now, we’re working from the AS400-based platform,” she said. “It’s very old. It’s a black and green screen, and it’s Windows-based.”
DPI chose two vendors for the school business modernization project. PCS will have to choose one of them before the end of December.
The new system will be more powerful and efficient, according to Baggett. It will also be web-based and allow interfacing with human resources and other systems.
“We’ll be at the front of the pack on the changeover. There are about 20 school systems on the AS400-based,” Baggett said. “We won’t be the first because New Hanover and Chapel Hill have already committed to new systems, but we’ll be among the first. … I have demos scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday. We’ll bring this back before you to make a decision later.”
Contact Bobby Burns at email@example.com and 329.9572.