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School Board mulls substitute pay increase

Warren County School District is looking into the cost of not having a teacher in front of a classroom.

Among its budget considerations this year, the school board will consider paying its substitute teachers more.

During the Personnel Committee, Anne Ward, who has been working as a substitute in the district for 20 years, said she is paid less per day this year than she was in 2005. “Back then, when the district employed subs, the pay was 70 cents more,” she said. “Is this the only reason for the severe shortage of substitutes? Probably not.”

But, paying more might help alleviate the problem.

She said the substitute pay amounts to about $12 an hour and cited the New York State minimum wage of $11.10.

Ward said she has seen days when there are as many as 30 absences among the teaching staff. If there is not a substitute for a teacher, there are six periods that need to be covered. Those are offered to the building’s full-time teachers, she said. They “have the right to refuse, but do get compensated.”

She also suggested some other steps that the district might take to encourage substitutes.

Board member Arthur Stewart asked administration to bring figures for a 10-percent raise and a 15-percent raise to substitute pay to the annual budget process.

Early budget season

The district has earlier deadlines this year to come up with some of its budget plans.

Director of Business Services Jim Grosch said the district must either present a preliminary budget for public display or opt-out of its ability to raise taxes past the state’s index by Jan. 9. That is three weeks earlier than last year, he said.

The district’s index is set at 3.7 percent — “that equates to a little over two mills,” Grosch said.

If the district opts out, or fails to win public approval through referendum, it may not raise taxes above the index — with some clearly defined exceptions.

Assessment

The district heard at a previous meeting a proposal by Warren County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston regarding a tax abatement plan.

The board invited commissioners to a future meeting to discuss some other tax-related issues.

“Assessment is such a critical item,” Stewart said. “Our tax base is static or dwindling.”

He asked if the lack of a new assessment of property values since the 1980s is discouraging new construction in the county because new construction requires a new assessment.

That generally brings a property’s valuation up to a more accurate, current number, he said. But, the neighbors’ properties — and the rest of the properties in the county — are not reassessed, so the taxes on the property with the new construction are out of line.

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