The Transylvania Times -

School System May Need More Money For Insurance

 

March 8, 2018



The Transylvania County School system could need an additional $50,000 in local funding to cover projected increases in retirement and health insurance for the 2018-19 school year.

In discussing the 2018-19 budget at the Transylvania County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Norris Barger, director of business services and plant operations, said the state has increased its retirement contribution to 18.44 percent and health insurance has increased to $6,045 per eligible employee.

“No school system in North Carolina can operate on just the state funded positions,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeff McDaris. “So every school system also has some locally funded positions.”

McDaris said that when the state raises the cost of living pay, retirement, health insurance, etc., then those increases for locally funded teachers have to be paid from local funds.

Barger said local funding for retirement and health insurance would increase another $50,000.

Board Chair Tawny McCoy said the school board would “encourage” a conversation with the county manager and commissioners about reviewing a local funding formula. The local funding formula is supposed to be reviewed every two years.

Barger said if the General Assembly adjourns early, the school system should know how much money it would receive from the state by June 30.

He said there should be some preliminary budget numbers from the state available in May, but he has to present his final budget to the school board by May 1.

“That’s not far off,” said Barger.

Once Barger has submitted the budget to the school board, the school board has until May 15 to present its local school budget to the county commissioners. The commissioners have until June 30 to approve their budget.

Since spring break occurs in April, the school board has only two more meetings before Barger has to submit his budget.

School board member Marty Griffin asked when new teachers would go on a new retirement plan.

Barger said there has been discussion in the legislature about putting new teachers on a different retirement program, such as teachers having their own 401K, “but I don't think anything has ever passed.”

“Everybody is still on the same defined benefit plan that has been out there for years,” said Barger. “Right now everything is the same.”

Brian Weaver, senior director of human resources, said Senate Bill (SB) 467 dealt with changes in retirement, but it was not passed.

Board Attorney Chad Donnahoo clarified that SB 467 had been introduced last April but it had not been passed by the state Senate.

Health And School Safety

During his superintendent’s update, McDaris said that according to the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and NC Child, North Carolina does not have enough school nurses and counselors and that is having a negative impact on students.

Both organizations gave the state a D grade for mental health.

McDaris also said that from 2011 to 2015 there has been a doubling of the number of high school students who have attempted suicide and there has been a 50 percent increase in students suffering from major depression from 8 to 12 percent.

He said the organizations also gave North Carolina an F for housing and economic security.

“The mental health system in this state is not what it needs to be,” said Griffin.

School board member Alice Wellborn requested that school staff provide the ratio of support personnel – nurses, counselors, psychologists, etc. – to students in Transylvania County.

“I know we’re way off for nurses,” said Wellborn. “I think we kind of need to know what we are looking at there.”

Wellborn said the information McDaris gave about student mental health correlates with school safety.

The school system, in partnership with the Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office, will host two meetings about school safety.

The first meeting will be held Monday, March 12, at Rosman High School at 6 p.m.

The second meeting will be held at Brevard High School on Tuesday, March 20, at 6 p.m.

McDaris said Transylvania County has been fortunate to have school resource officers (SROs) in each school for years.

“Henderson County still does not have that,” said McDaris, who expressed his appreciation to the county commissioners for funding the SROs.

”We have good SROs. They are more than just law enforcement officers and the students trust them,” said McDaris.

McCoy said SROs provide a deterrent for people who might want to come on campus to cause harm, but they also develop good relations with students.

“So many times our students are willing to share with them,” said McCoy.

Other News

•The board postponed any decision on teacher contracts until its next meeting on March 19. McCoy said the staff is still gathering more information on the subject.

•Both Ron Kiviniemi and Betty Scruggs McGaha were absent due to unplanned family commitments.

•McDaris congratulated Rosman Middle School teacher Missy West and Brian Weaver, senior director of human resources, for attaining their doctoral degrees in education.

Important Dates

•The next school board meeting will be Monday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m. at the Morris Education Center.

•March 30 is an annual leave day. Spring break is from April 2-6.

•Taste of Transylvania, a fundraiser for the Transylvania County Schools Education Foundation, will be held May 1 at 6 p.m. at the Brevard Lumberyard.

Proceeds from this event are used for additional projects in classrooms.

Central Office

Summer Schedule

From Monday, June 18, through Friday, Aug. 10, the central administrative offices will be open for four 10-hour days a week.

Offices will be open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m.

 
 

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