Piggy bank on school books FOR WEB

GREENSBORO — Superintendent Sharon Contreras is proposing a $1 million pay increase for bus drivers and a $2 million increase in teacher supplement funding as part of her 2019-20 school budget.

She shared her recommendations with Guilford County Board of Education members Wednesday during a work session.

Here's a look at her various proposals:

Proposed spending

• $1 million to increase pay for bus drivers. The district has dealt with bus driver shortages this year. Contreras has said there has been discussion about whether it might be possible for some drivers to become salaried rather than hourly employees. 

• $2 million to increase the supplements paid to teachers. This is going a step further with an initiative the district started last year that tried to better compete with other North Carolina school districts for teachers.

• $1 million to support chronically low-performing schools. Again, this is a step advancing something the district started last year, targeting the district's nine schools with the lowest student proficiency scores on state tests.

• $130,000 to keep an additional day of professional development for bus drivers.

• $100,000 in increased liability insurance.

• An unspecified amount to cover a pay increase for cafeteria workers that would be paid out of a separate fund from the operating budget.

• An unspecified amount for instructional resources and professional learning that district administrators say can be funded from existing local, state and federal sources.

Expected increases

• $2.9 million more in what the district must pass along to charter schools to cover enrollment increases.

Expected savings

The district expects to save $2.7 million from consolidating schools. Most of that is coming from the proposed closure of Hampton Elementary, which had its building damaged a year ago by a tornado.

Officials also expect to save about $200,000 with a new printing contract and $1 million by improving efficiency in the transportation department.

Contreras is proposing that the district split and expand its Twilight program, which serves high school students who are close to graduation but need "flexible hours, a self-paced curriculum and more support" than can be found in a traditional classroom setting.

Contreras would like to move Twilight from its location at 116 Pisgah Church Road in Greensboro to three other schools: Jackson Middle, Pruette SCALE Academy and Southern High.

Contreras expects increased enrollment under the new proposal, saying the three sites could serve between 240 to 300 students for the same $750,000 per year spent at one site. 

SCALE Greensboro, an alternative school also located at the Pisgah Road address, would be relocated to the administrative building on Washington Street in downtown Greensboro. Under that scenario, Contreras said some administrative staff would move from Washington Street to the former McIver Education Center. 

Officials expect some minor savings from these changes.

Contreras said the building housing Twilight and SCALE is in unsatisfactory condition, according to a recent facilities report from consultants. 

Pulling it together

Contreras is recommending the school board request about $10 million more from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners for the operating budget, bringing the county's total contribution to roughly $212 million.

Separately, she wants the school board to ask county commissioners for about $11.3 million to deal with deferred maintenance around the district, and about $650,000 for furniture, equipment and vehicles.

The district expects funding from the state for the 2019-20 budget year to be about $425 million — down slightly from the $428 million provided last year. Most state money goes directly to teaching positions. District officials usually can't redirect money to fill other gaps in the budget.

The budget reflects about $16 million less in federal funding than the current year’s budget.

In total, Contreras' recommendations would bring the district's total budget to $767.3 million, about $250,000 more than the budget passed for the current academic year.

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Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.​

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