The Spotsylvania County School Board is considering a measure in the budget for next fiscal year that would give raises to veteran bus drivers.
The proposal, one of four scenarios presented to the board at a Monday evening work session on the budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, would give tiered salary increases of between 5 percent and 7 percent to bus drivers, based on their years of service.
The original proposal would give bus drivers with up to five years of service a 5 percent increase. Those in years six to 10 would get a 5.5 percent raise, those in years 11 to 15 would get 6 percent, those in years 16 to 20 would get 6.5 percent and those with more than 21 years of service would get 7 percent.
The increases would be on top of a 4 percent salary increase proposed for all school division teachers and support staff in Superintendent Scott Baker’s budget proposal.
These raises would affect 318 employees of the transportation department and would add $338,000 to the $342.8 million proposed budget.
The proposal for bus drivers is more comprehensive than the one initially included in the budget, which was first presented Jan. 21. The original measure included only four tiers of raises and gave the biggest raise to fewer drivers.
Veteran drivers felt the first proposal did not go far enough in addressing long-standing pay compression issues.
The board will now consider the new scenario, though possibly with the raises lowered slightly to between 4 and 6.5 percent, instead of 5 and 7 percent. Board members also asked to see the budget revised to extend the 4 percent raise to administrators as well as teachers and support staff.
Baker proposed a 3 percent raise for administrators in the original budget presentation.
School division staff on Monday presented information showing that with a ratio of 2.9 principals and assistant principals to every 1,000 students, Spotsylvania ranks 127th out of 132 divisions in the state.
Extending the 4 percent raise to administrators would cost an additional $434,004.
School Board members Kirk Twigg and Dawn Shelley also expressed a wish to see hourly employees—such as paraeducators and maintenance and custodial staff—included in the 4 percent raise.
Division staff will prepare information about this request for the School Board’s next meeting Feb. 10, when the board is expected to approve the budget. It then goes to the Board of Supervisors, which decides how much local funding to provide.
Board members also asked to see 10 school counselors added to the 62 new positions requested in the budget, in an effort to get closer to the state Board of Education’s new Standards of Quality. The new standards reduce the ratio of students to counselors to 250 students to every one counselor in elementary, middle and high school.
Under the current standards, the ratio is 455 students to one counselor in elementary school, 370 to one in middle school and 325 to one in high school.
Baker said Monday that he expects the new requests to add more than $1 million to the budget, increasing the gap between expenditures and projected revenues from state and local government from $4 million to $5 million.