First grade teacher Kim Walker said she and her colleagues were pleased with the news. "We are ecstatic about it," she said. "We feel it was well deserved."
Though Walker and fellow teachers might be pleased after Monday night's meeting, not everyone shared the emotion. School board member-at-large Jeff Miles cast the lone vote against the budget proposed by Superintendent Randy Byrd.
Miles said Thursday that he felt the raise was, indeed, well deserved. However, he did not agree with the way in which it was achieved. It was a matter of process, he said.
Miles noted that raises are not usually wrapped into the annual budget. They are considered, instead, at a separate meeting in November.
He said new board members should have had the opportunity to weigh in on that decision, and he questioned the superintendent's timing. The vote occurred the night before school board elections, and Miles said he felt including the raise in the budget was a political calculation.
Superintendent Randy Byrd confirmed that raises are usually passed in November. However, he denied any sinister motives.
Raises are usually considered later in the year, he said, because the district must wait until then to know how much revenue to expect from the state. The district submits final enrollment figures to Little Rock in October, and it is these that are used to determine district funding.
Enrollment figures and revenue projections were so high this year, he said, that he felt comfortable presenting the raise for a vote sooner.
This year's budget projects a revenue increase of $1,374,618 over last year. Byrd said part of this increase is due to swelling enrollment. The remainder can be attributed to increased tax revenue after this year's property reassessment.
While revenue is on the upswing, expenditures have also increased since last year, to the tune of $501,280. Byrd said the higher costs were due mostly to the additional students, as well as the pay raise.
However, even with the added expenses, the district plans to end the school year with $873,338 more in the bank than at the end of last year.
Besides, Byrd said, if board members took issue with the raise, they could have passed an amended budget that excluded it.
Miles said it was not this simple, however. Deleting the raise, he said, would have made it look like board members were against it altogether.
A slew of new board members were elected Tuesday night. Miles said he would let them know they still have an opportunity to repeal the raise. They could do so, he said, by refusing to approve the minutes for the September meeting next month.
Until then, Walker said she would look forward to using the extra money in her Christmas shopping.