School board denies raises

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Emotions ran high during the Dallas County School Board meeting Monday night after the board followed Superintendent Wayne May’s recommended not giving pay raises to the system’s support staff.

Of the five board members, only Bill Minor cast an opposing vote before the superintendent’s recommendation was approved.

The final decision comes three months after cafeteria worker Judy Kyser, acting as spokesperson for county schools support staff, made a request to raise the pay of her fellow support staff employees.

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During a board meeting in May, Kyser explained that most of the support staff work at or below the poverty level, with the average salary between $400 to $500 a month. In a letter sent to board members on Monday, May said he supported the request for a raise and spent the summer trying to find local funding to make it possible.

“My staff and I searched diligently to find local funding sources for the request made by local personnel. However, our efforts failed to reveal any feasible solutions. Borrowing money was the only option to support the increase.”

May said he met with Assistant State Superintendent Robert Morton about the school system’s financial situation and was told that in order to fulfill the request for a raise, he would have to cut the number of support staff employees drastically.

“My recommendation for the system is to leave the number of support staff where it is,” May said. “The system simply cannot afford a pay raise at this time. I would like to remind the board that a balloon payment of $1.6 million payable to LaSalle Bank for Johnson Controls energy management project is due in the year 2007. Prior to this large expenditure, the general fund will have a projected zero balance in is account.”

After hearing this news, Kyser asked the board why it continued to hire new employees if the system was in such dire financial straits.

“We already have the minimum amount of staff the state would allow,” May said. “The new personnel we hire is to replace the ones who have left or retired. If we did not replace this staff, the state would no longer fund our schools.”

Kyser and other support staff employees left the meeting in tears.

LaBarron Mack, UniServe director for the Alabama Educators Association, said the organization would work with Dallas County support staff to find a way to help them.

“We are going to continue to find and do everything in our power to help our members,” Mack said.