LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
Teachers and administrative staff throughout the Commonwealth, including those in Laurel County, can expect to see a pay raise in each of the next two years, according to a two-year spending plan approved last week by the Kentucky General Assembly.
The plan requires school districts to give their employees a mandatory one-percent raise in the 2015 school year and a two-percent raise in the 2016 school year.
The raises will cost the state about $174 million, according to budget estimates, and could leave some school districts facing another unfunded mandate.
“One percent is a much more responsible decision than the original plan,” said Laurel County School Superintendent Doug Bennett. “Originally, the plan called for a two-percent raise in the first year. We will most likely break even with the change.”
For East Bernstadt Independent Schools — a district that will now have to restructure their budget — Kentucky’s two year spending plan comes as an unwelcome shock.
“To be honest, we were hoping legislators in Frankfort would have found another way to make the raises possible,” said East Bernstadt Superintendent Vicki Jones. “If they were to have done it in the reverse order — with the two percent first — it would have been difficult to factor into the budget.”
According to the superintendents, the one-percent raise is going to cost Laurel County Schools $76,000 and East Bernstadt approximately $25,000 beyond the allocated SEEK funding in 2015. While the number doesn’t sound like much, both superintendents maintain the budget will be tight but manageable.
“A raise for our outstanding teachers is long overdue,” Bennett said. “The state mandating the one-percent increase first makes it much more manageable, but we’re still going to have to do some planning on how to cover the two percent in the following year.”
According to Bennett, it has been four years since Laurel County School District staff has received a raise. At that time, the raise was a one-percent increase for certified and classified employees.