The Wilson County Board of Education and Education Committee butted heads Monday night over a number of budget issues for Wilson County Schools.
The most prominent disagreement came with the Extended School Program budget. In its meeting Monday afternoon, the board asked Extended Care Program Director Denise McMillan to discuss the program’s needs.
McMillan said there is currently a shortage of 13 positions, and none of those were filled.
The board discussed two funding options for the program. Option A was a package that included no changes in salary for employees and no rate increase for parents whose students are enrolled in the program.
Option B would increase the salary for employees to $9.50 per hour from the present $7.35. It would also include a $15-per-week rate increase for participants. After lengthy discussion, the board passed Option A by a 3-2 vote, with board members Larry Tomlinson and Bill Robinson voting against.
Education Committee member Jeff Joines expressed his feelings on the subject during the Education Committee meeting held following the school board session.
“When I was at the school board meeting, they said they had 13 positions they hadn’t been able to fill. That means there’s going to be more children being supervised by less people because they can’t get them filled at $7.35.
“It’s unconscionable to me that they wouldn’t want to fill it up with 13 more workers or 15 workers, or 20 workers, people knocking at the door wanting to work. And the thing is it doesn’t cost the taxpayers a penny, because it’s inside the school board fund. It funds itself.”
Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall told committee members the board wanted to reconsider the vote on the extended care budget due to having additional information brought to its attention.
“The board voted on Option A, which did not require an increase or a wage rate change,” said Hall. “Since then, they’ve determined that we have part-time workers in that program.”
The proposed new budget would include a salary increase from the current $7.35 to $8.75 for part-time employees only.
School Board chair Don Weathers told the Education Committee, “What I just learned after the board meeting was over is the Kids Club employees do not get any benefits at all. And I was mistakenly under the impression that they got benefits, as well.
“Right now there’s three or four, maybe five board members that are willing to go back and for the Kids Club employees, part time employees, raise their pay to $8.75 an hour that would be absorbed in the extended care programs without any rate increase at all for this year.”
This salary increase would affect 63 part-time workers in the program.
Joines made a motion to send the budget back to school board, which was seconded by committee chair Annette Stafford.
County Finance Director Aaron Maynard offered a piece of advice to the committee, as well. He said to send the budget back to the school board.
“It’s important to me that we be prepared to vote on this budget when we come back from the fair. I hope that I’m looking at a lot of the same 25 people in that room I was looking at last month, but in September, I have no guarantee that the people that I’m looking at in that room are the same people I’m going to be looking at in August.”
The Education Committee recessed to allow the school board to reconsider the budget.