During their Thursday night meeting, the Madison County School board approved a 3% raise in the salary schedule for teachers. Classified employees (cooks, custodial staff, bus drivers) received a $1 raise across the board.
According to board members, the funding for the raises comes from $1.2 in increased SEEK funding and a $2.09 million dip into the school system's contingency fund budgets. Board Chair Brandon Rutherford said the district have been working on the raise for a while now.
"(Superintendent) Dr. Gilliam had started speaking to us months ago about a pay raise," Rutherford said. "We're always talking about pay raises before it becomes an issue... I think this board always wants to give whatever we can with this pay raise, but we have to live within our means."
According to Rutherford, the decision to split the raise between a percentage raise and across the board $1 raise was to give as big an impact for employees as possible. The percentage raise targeted longtime employees in particular.
"That's how we came up with the percent and the numbers to try and make the biggest impact, because by doing the percentage on certified staff, it brought our higher or older teachers that are closer to retirement — it brought their pay up more. Which made them more comparable with Clark County, Garrett County, as you know," Rutherford said.
Among those in attendance at the board meeting was Susan Cintra, a Madison Central teacher and President of the Madison County Education Association (MCEA). In the last board meeting, Cintra and the MCEA requested an 8% across the board pay raise for certified employees and a 10% raise for classified employees. She shared her thoughts on the raise that was passed, and was critical of the state legislature.
"We are appreciative of the 3% raise, but this is a failure of the legislature directly. When they could have provided the money to us instead of hiding it... this is a failure of the legislatures to not support public educators," Cintra said. "We are thankful of the 3%. We would like to see more when comparing to other districts, a lot of those other districts have already given those increases. So our disparity between the two are still significant. But again, this is a legislature issue."
Cintra said she and the MCEA are thankful for the board and noted they were in a difficult position.
The decision to dip into contingency funds was a difficult one for the board, but Chief Financial Officer Mark Woods assured the board he would not have proposed the plan or the budget if he did not think they could do it.