MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Monongalia County Board of Education wants to explore options to match the $2,300 pay raise passed during the legislative session.
Board President Ron Lytle opened up the possibility at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday as part of discussions involving the 2023–24 fiscal year excess school levy, where he called for the board to work to find ways to use levy funds to cover projected costs. The levy is projected to generate approximately $35.8 million after adjustments, and the board feels that part of the revenues could be designated toward a pay raise like in years past.
“If we have one hundred dollars above the formula for professionals, that’s a quarter of a million dollars in additional funds that we’re going to have to find to cover the pay raise the state gave them,” said Lytle.
Monongalia County Schools Treasurer Nicole Kemper stated that revenues received as part of the FY 2023–24 excess school levy will be hard to disburse for pay raises. While she did not shoot down any possibilities, she stated that a significant increase in risk insurance premiums that rose by as much as 220 percent, as well as covering losses of state dollars due to missed student growth numbers ($700,000 in growth facility spending), and an increased public match for early education teachers, would be more than the tax revenue increase of over $2.2 million from year to year.
“What that means for Mon County is probably our insurance rates are going to go up by $500,000 to $600,000,” said Kemper on where the extra revenues are currently directed. “With the new requirement for all aids and ECATS in the first grade classroom, we’re going to have a local share effect of approximately $300,000,” she said.
If a pay raise were to take place, this would be the second straight pay raise that the Monongalia County School employees would receive in the past two years. The pay raise was considered costly, according to Kemper, due to the increase in the amount of revenues collected during FY 2022–2023 (approximately $200,000) not covering the over $1 million for the raises. The decision also resulted in the need to use part of the FY 2023–24 excess levy revenues to cover funding sources that were allocated for the raise.
“We gave a $1,000 across the board pay raise for all of our employees, which costs over $1 million, and we were able to take that difference out of reserves,” said Kemper.
A potential $2,300 pay raise match from Mon County Schools is expected to be discussed formally when the FY 2023–24 budget is presented to the BOE in April. Lytle’s call to find room in the budget for a pay raise was supported by the majority of the board, with the hope that past years of fiscal responsibility will help fund any raises worked in. Despite the last-second call that the board acknowledged was made in response to the passing of pay raises during the legislative session, they hope to find a way to make it work.
“It’s kind of nice to get all of these laws and the things that happen in Charleston, have a budget put together, and have to react to that in such a short time because it just happened this week,” said Lytle. “So the idea of being able to budget for something like that, it’s tough this early, but we need to keep an eye on this,” he said.