When called to approve this year’s budget, board member Richard Manahan added an amendment for a one-time 1 percent bonus to all teachers and staff. It would be a one-time expense, he said, in addition to the raise teachers are already getting in the budget.
He recommended pulling the estimated $500,000 expense out of the fund balance.
“Education is a critical and major engine to the current and future economic development for Johnson City and the region,” he said. “Our teachers and staff are the most important investment in our schools to educate our children.”
Not all board members thought it was the best time to give an extra salary boost. Kathy Hall asked if it would be wise to wait and see if there would be changes to school funding after the election, and to wait on final BEP figures from the state.
Financial Supervisor Leia Valley also confirmed that the IRS taxes bonuses at a 25 percent rate.
“One of the things that I always think it’s much better to have a salary increase than a bonus if I’m a teacher,” Hall said.
“I think that we’ve always tried to go out of our way to support our teachers, to make decisions that would provide as much financial benefit to our teachers and our staff total,” Chairman Tim Belisle added. “I (am) just not convinced this is the best thing for us to do at this time.”
Hall added an amendment that the board reconsider the bonus at their November meeting, which passed 4-3, with Manahan and Tom Hager voting against it. Stacie Torbett was absent from Monday night’s meeting.
“I believe in using the fund balance for what we’ve used the fund balance for so far. I do not believe in using the fund balance like some systems have been made to do, to balance their budget,” Hager said before the vote.
“I think it’s imperative that our funding balance across the region needs to come up with the money to fund public schools.”
Then, a motion to approve Manahan’s amendment for an immediate bonus failed, and the board eventually passed the budget with Hall’s amendment in a 5-1 vote, with Manahan voting against it.
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