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The Williamsburg-James City County School Board unanimously approved a fiscal 2017 operating budget that includes improved compensation for teachers, administrators and support staff Tuesday night.
The operating budget, which was proposed by Superintendent Steven Constantino and totals $128,296,495, includes a more competitive salary for entry-level teachers, modified “step” increases for all teacher salaries and a 1.5 percent salary increase for all support and administrative staff.
According to the new salary scale, the average increase for teachers would be 1.5 percent, but preliminary estimates show the modified step increases could result in a range of 1.41 to 6.54 percent salary increases for teachers in FY 2017, said Tim Baker, the school division’s senior director of talent management and organizational development.
The larger increases could help bring teachers who have been held at the same step for several years up to the step equivalent of the number of years they have worked in the school division, Baker said.
The compensation improvements would cost $2,444,217. The budget as a whole requests $4.04 million more in funding, or 3.2 percent more, than in FY 2016.
Before the vote, interim School Board member Mary Minor (Powhatan) said she would support the budget but urged the Board to avoid adjusting the compensation improvements once they learn the funding decisions of James City County and the City of Williamsburg and need to make changes to their budget.
Vice Chairwoman Kyra Cook (City of Williamsburg) echoed a sentiment from JCC Supervisor Ruth Larson (Berkeley) when she encouraged fellow board members to “trust” the funding localities.
“I think we need to trust the localities to fund as they can,” Cook said. “The state needs to stop strangling the localities and reinvest in education.”
She added that she felt the School Board is presenting a “budget of need,” which the school division can use to quantify any funding gap following the localities’ funding decisions.
The budget also contains a 2 percent increase in the number of full-time employees. That increase would include more special education and teacher support positions.
The school division will submit the budget as the School Board’s Proposed Budget as a recommendation to James City County Board of Supervisors and the Williamsburg City Council. The localities must approve their appropriations to the school division no later than May 15.
The School Board will then adopt an operating budget based on the localities’ funding decisions.