Are Columbus area teachers, staff getting raises passed by the Georgia Legislature?

Here’s how you can contact your Muscogee County School Board member

The Muscogee County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Muscogee County School District. The school board consists of nine members. Eight of the members are elected from districts. One is elected at large.
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The Muscogee County Board of Education is the elected governing body of the Muscogee County School District. The school board consists of nine members. Eight of the members are elected from districts. One is elected at large.

Georgia’s fiscal year 2020 state budget signed by Gov. Brian Kemp includes a $3,000 raise for teachers and other certificated staff as well as a 2 percent raise for other school employees.

It’s up to each school district to determine how to use those allotted funds, so which Columbus area school employees are receiving raises, how much and when?

Muscogee County

Muscogee County School Board representative Mike Edmondson of District 2 shed light on the subject in a Facebook post July 1.

Although the fiscal year started July 1, the raises won’t “kick in” until the 2019-20 school year starts in August, he said.

“The teachers are getting their raise,” Edmondson wrote. “… It is $3,000 a year. Divided among 12 months. The board has been repeatedly assured of this. We have repeatedly asked about this.”

Edmondson told the L-E it’s his understanding that MCSD also is giving the full 2 percent raise from the state to all classified employees, meaning those who don’t have a teaching certificate.

The L-E reported last month that the board unanimously approved an amended contract with superintendent David Lewis, raising his base salary from $178,602 to $186,000, an increase of 4 percent. The contract now runs from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2022. Three years is the maximum length state law allows for a superintendent’s contract.

His last raise was in December 2017, when the board voted 7-2 to boost his salary from $173,400 to $178,602, an increase of 3 percent.

The L-E reached out to the Muscogee County School District on June 27 for more details on the raises, but did not get a response before this story’s deadline.

Harris County

In the Harris County School District, all employees are receiving a raise, Superintendent Roger Couch told the L-E.

All 411 certificated staff members will receive the $3,000 raise from the state. All 355 non-certificated staff members will receive a 3 percent raise from a mix of state and local funds.

So HCSD is using local funds to give its non-certificated personnel an additional 1 percent raise along with the 2 percent from the state, Kelly Bowen, the district’s finance director, told the L-E.

The total cost the raises in local funds is $206,221, Couch said.

HCSD officials have not yet responded to a query asking if the superintendent is getting a raise and, if so, how much. Couch’s one-year contract when he was hired in June 2018 shows his base salary as $136,800.

Chattahoochee County

In the Chattahoochee County School District, all 85 certified staff members will receive a $3,000 raise and all 80 classified staff received a 2 percent raise from the state, superintendent Kristie Brooks told the L-E.

“The state added those funds into the system’s revenue,” Brooks said, “and local boards across Georgia determine how to use it as we are not required to adhere to the state pay scale.”

Asked whether the amount of each ChattCo employee’s raise depends on an evaluation, Brooks said, “We do not have performance-based merit pay as part of a compensation process.”

Brooks, who was hired earlier this year for a base salary of $119,500, said she declined her $3,000 raise.

“The board and I discussed the costs that the system will incur as we begin a modernization of facilities and our transportation fleet,” she explained. “As a low-wealth system, any additional savings that we can incur allows us to embark on our five-year strategic plan and increase our reserves for needed capital projects.

“Because the state does not cover the full cost associated with a superintendent, at this time, the local funds need to be driven toward local needs for our schools. Our goal is to become a system of choice, and this is one avenue to begin that journey, putting a financial focus on our aging fleet and buildings.”

Approximately $75,000 of a superintendent’s salary comes from state funding, Brooks said.

Ledger-Enquirer staff writer Mark Rice covers education and other issues related to youth. He also writes feature stories about any compelling topic. He has been reporting in Columbus and the Chattahoochee Valley for more than a quarter-century. He welcomes your local news tips and questions.