Following the money in Hillsborough County
Hillsborough school board members touched on the upcoming budget only briefly last week, long enough to be told that, when expenses are taken out, the Legislature gave the district students a little more than $6 each in new money.
The real discussions will take place May 3, as a workshop at 9 a.m. and as a board meeting at 1 p.m. Both are open to the public.
May 3 is about when the teachers' union should be returning to the bargaining table. Last year's contentious negotiations dragged on until winter break, and both sides want to avoid another delay in giving employees their raises and bonuses.
The unions did not get the increases they wanted last year, as the administration was wrestling with spending issues that began to deplete their reserve fund. The balance amount fluctuates wildly, depending on factors such as when taxes are due and when state money arrives. Year to year, chief budget officer Gretchen Saunders said recently it has grown "a smidge." That's good news because it is no longer going down.
But the good news also means union negotiators will pay attention to expenditures -- such as the raises of $20,000 and sometimes $30,000 that area directors got when they were reclassified to be area superintendents, which is intended to be a much bigger job. In addition, there is an item on Tuesday's school board agenda that would reclassify the area superintendents' eight executive secretaries and give them raises too, retroactive to July 1, at a total cost of $76,000. According to the district payroll, executive secretaries in the area superintendents' offices earn between $29,000 and $49,000 a year. Administrative secretaries, such as those in the superintendent's office, earn between $35,000 and $58,000.
This item comes on top of $134,292 that the district will pay its new chief community relations officer. That appointment is expected at Tuesday's 3 p.m. meeting.