Trustees okay freeze for salary schedule, voting machine buy

Rockdale ISD trustees, meeting Monday in special session in the Central Administration Building, followed through on an austerity measure discussed this spring and suspended the teacher salary schedule and merit pay plans.

“ This action only covers the 2011-12 school year,” Supt. Dr. Howell Wright told board members. “It doesn’t mean forever.”

The freeze was one of a list of items mulled by board members in February as the Rockdale ISD prepared to deal with a revenue shortfall brought on by education funding cuts at the state level.

QUESTION—That belt-tightening philosophy was brought up again later in the session by trustee Kent Bowermon during discussion of budget amendments, usually a routine agenda item.

Marla Wallace, chief financial officer, said one amendment reflected $2,500 for the purchase of a laptop computer for the athletic department.

Bowermon questioned whether the proposed expenditure represented replacing broken equipment or the purchase of new equipment using “surplus funds.”

“It would be hard to explain to those classroom teachers who just got their step (pay raise) taken away, why we’re spending $2,500 out of surplus funds,” he said. “If we’re going to be in the boat, let’s all be in the boat.”

Wallace said the purchase was planned and that she would not characterize the funds as “surplus.”

The budget amendment was approved.

VOTING MACHINES—Dr. Wr ight told board members recent state legislation has made it necessary for voting entities, other than counties, to own their own electronic voting machines if they wish to continue having spring elections.

He said an agreement had been informally reached between the school district, City of Rockdale and Rockdale Hospital District to each share one-third of the cost to purchase e-voting machines.

“That will be a one-time cost,” he said. “Of course we will have the recurring cost of programming them and paying for the elections.”

The proposal was unanimously approved.

In other business, trustees:

• Hired Jennifer Betak as a high school chemistry teacher and Karissa Norte for high school math and as assistant softball coach.

• Accepted the resignation of high school chemistry teacher Chase Pectal.

• Approved a change in the school calendar, shifting a parent teacher conference day from Oct. 5 to Oct. 4.

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