Rhonda Thurman: A Raise That Got Past Me

Sunday, February 28, 2021

At the School Board meeting on February 18, I did something I have not done since I was elected to the Board in 2004. I voted for an across-the-board raise with one-time money. It may sound crazy, but I did not know I voted for it until the meeting was over.

Let me explain. At our Agenda Session on Monday, February 15, we were presented a proposal to use $1.8 million one-time money from the state to help fund a one percent across-the-board raise. A one percent raise cost $3.1 million.

At the agenda session, there was a good bit of discussion about where the additional money to fund the raise was going to come from in following years. Since this was the first time for us to see the proposal, some Board members, including me, said they would have to study the numbers before they knew how they felt about it. I assumed additional conversation would take place at Thursday’s board meeting.

When I got to the Board meeting on Thursday, I glanced at the agenda and did not see the raise listed under Board Matters. So, I thought Dr. Johnson had decided to put off voting on the raise until later.

On my way home from Thursday’s Board meeting, I made a call to ask why the raise was not on the Agenda. I was told it was. It was under the Consent Agenda.

In all fairness, when the raise proposal was given to us at Monday’s Agenda Session, it was proposed as a “FY 21 General Purpose Budget Amendment”. I just did not notice it in the header for the proposal. Budget Amendments are listed under the Consent Agenda. However, raises are usually put under Board Matters where things have to be voted on individually, instead of as a group like items on the Consent Agenda.

I have said many times that I would not vote to spend one-time money on reoccurring expenses. I still feel the same way. However, this one got past me. I pray we have a long-term plan to cover $3.1 million we just added to our base budget. Not just this year and next, but from now on. 

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