Live Oak —
The 2012-13 school year has finally come to and end in Suwannee County and school officials have spent time reflecting on the past and are now looking ahead to the 2013-14 academic year. Here is a brief rundown of recent school happenings.
Teachers get pay raise for 2013-14 school year
For the first time in about five years, Suwannee County teachers will receive a pay raise provided by the Florida Legislature in the upcoming academic year. During the last legislative session, the House and Senate agreed to set aside $480 million for teacher pay increases that will be distributed by local school boards. Suwannee County Schools’ allocation is $937,445.
“The details as to how and when these funds are distributed are yet to be determined,” said Jerry Scarborough, superintendent of schools.
According to Vickie Music, chief financial officer, it could be the fall of this year before an agreement is reached between the school board and the United Teachers of Suwannee County bargaining teams on the specific way teachers will be awarded.
Teachers end school year with 2 percent bonus
The bargaining teams and the district office recently agreed to a one-time bonus for the 2012-13 school year. Each teacher will be awarded a bonus that equals two percent of their annual salary for the recent school year.
School board reaches agreement to overlap bookkeeper position
On Tuesday at a special called board meeting, the board decided unanimously to allow SHS Principal Ted Roush to hire a bookkeeper in July to shadow Sharon Sommers, a 17-year veteran bookkeeper at Suwannee High School, who will be retiring in December. This decision, however, was made after much debate.
“If a person is skilled and trained to be a bookkeeper, I don’t know why they need six months for training,” said board member J.M. Holtzclaw. Holtzclaw suggested hiring someone two months in advance.
“I can see the need for an overlap, but I just don’t think we need six months,” he said.
Roush explained to the board the magnitude of the workload this position has and the liability that comes with it.
“There’s so many aspects of the job,” Roush said. “When Sharon stepped into the position, she was trained by a lady who served in the position for 30 years. When we lose Sharon, we’re losing a wealth of knowledge and experience that has been so vital to us.”
Sommers addressed the board and explained why July would be a good time for the incoming bookkeeper to begin.
“Since there is such an enormous liability in making sure everything is right, this would give the person time to observe how to close out the books for this school year, open the books for the upcoming school year, and prepare for things such as football season.”
Sommers told the board when she trained an individual currently working in the school system as a bookkeeper, it took her at least six months before the person had a full grasp of the job. She said the position she is vacating is much more difficult and would require more training.
“I don’t see anyone standing in line to take my job,” Sommers laughed.
Sommers noted if the incoming bookkeeper was to start in November, with the holidays involved, there would only be about six weeks of good training involved.
For the individual to begin training in July, the school board would be paying half of the person’s salary of $47,000 which includes benefits.
Roush encouraged the board to not look at it as an additional expense, but as an investment for protecting the school from liability issues that could have been prevented through advance training.
School board members were hesitant to accept six months and pay half of a salary for training. However, Roush told the board he would fund a minimum of $5,000.
With the guarantee from Roush, the board voted 5-0 to grant Roush’s request and overlap the position for six months.