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tidewaterreview.com

New Kent School Board requesting new art teacher position, salary increases for part-time drivers

By Amy Jo Martin, amartin@tidewaterreview.com

8:00 AM EDT, March 20, 2014

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NEW KENT – The New Kent County School Board is requesting a new art teacher position and salary increases for part-time drivers in the Fiscal Year 2014-15 budget.

The board voted 5-1 Wednesday night at its work session to approve the $28.55 million budget as presented, with an additional $60,000 for a new elementary school art teacher.

“The amount of $60,000 is just a place holder and represents someone that has a master’s degree, benefits, and a five-year contract, so that amount could be less,” said Dr. Robert Richardson, Jr. following the work session.

No one spoke at the public hearing.

Currently, the 1,600 students at George W. Watkins Elementary and New Kent Elementary schools share one art teacher.

“That’s 15 hours per year of art for these children,” said Chairman Leigh Quick, who referenced a recent article that reported schools boards should view the performing arts as unique tools of learning.

“We need to fill the needs for all our students,” she said.

According to Richardson, the General Assembly budget has not been released, so the final budget numbers could change.

“If it’s closer to the Senate budget, we could potentially gain enough to cover the additional art position,” Richardson said.

In addition to the art teaching position, the School Board also directed staff to consider an equitable way to give salary increases to part-time bus and car drivers, or those working less than 30 hours.

The School Board recently adopted new personnel policies in observance of the Affordable Healthcare Act, which defines full-time employees as working 30 hours or more. This means that most of its school bus drivers and some of the car drivers will become part-time and unable to receive healthcare benefits.

Although the FY14-15 budget proposes that the county will save $27,637 by giving an 8.13 percent increase to part-time drivers without benefits, the board asked staff to re-evaluate the process and consider giving them a flat fee. This means that the figure could fluctuate.

At $28.55 million, the adopted FY15 budget is $1.24 million above what was adopted in FY14, with 67.5 percent, or $948,721, going toward instruction.

New Kent County Administrator Rodney Hathaway is proposing in the FY15 budget that schools receive 13.1 million, or $570,000 more in local funding than was adopted in FY14.

The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on its $65.24 million FY15 budget in May. The county's draft budget proposes a 1-cent decrease in real estate taxes.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.