Mr. Burke Jolley, Business Administrator for Jordan District, presented the proposed 2011-2012 budget Tuesday night. He said the budget did not include any compensation increases (steps, lanes, COLAs) for any employees. He said the budget should be revenue neutral, meaning that the District spends what it receives or uses reserves to pay for priorities. He also said this budget is long-term and sustainable.
I spoke to the School Board stating that a long-term, sustainable budget must include steps and lanes. I talked of the implied contract of the salary schedule and that not funding steps and lanes violates the integrity of the salary schedule. I also pointed out the possible problems that will come 5 to 10 years down the road as other districts continue to honor their salary schedules, and Jordan does not. Veteran teachers who have already topped out on the salary schedule will retire. New teachers will either go to other districts after a couple of years in Jordan when they realize they are not receiving increases, or Jordan will only be able to hire teachers who have not been hired by other districts.
I expressed these same ideas on Wednesday to School Board President Rick Bojak when the School Board and JEA Executive Board met for lunch. I told him I was concerned that the impact of the decisions to not include steps and lanes in a long-term, sustainable budget will not be seen immediately, but that in 5 to 10 years, the quality of education received by the students will decline due to the points mentioned above. Other JEA Board members also gave personal examples or examples of teachers within their schools who have left or considered leaving Jordan to teach elsewhere. In addition, we explained that a teacher with three years of experience being hired by Jordan from out of state is likely placed on Step 3 of the salary schedule, while a third year teacher who has only taught in Jordan is still on Step 1, making an inequity and not rewarding loyalty.
At the budget hearing, Representative Jim Bird also spoke. He called Mr. Jolley out about hazardous busing. He asked why the district was maintaining the legal maximum 5% in reserves ($14.5 million) when there are children who must cross Highway 111 or 9000 South. Mrs. Peggy Jo Kennett pointed out that the School Board made that decision.
I appreciate the 10 JEA members who attended the Budget Hearing.