D-26 plans to add teachers

CARY – District 26’s spending plan for the 2012-13 school year includes bringing back six teaching positions to help reduce class sizes.

The district expects to run a $34 million budget next school year – its third year in a row of a balanced budget. The operating funds, which include education, operations and maintenance and transportation, are expected to have a $63,000 surplus.

The board is scheduled to vote next week on whether to put the tentative budget on public display. A final vote on the budget is expected in September.

The district is planning for four categorical grant payments from the state, which pay for transportation and special education, among other things.

General state aid is expected to drop to $1.17 million from $1.9 million. With the state still finalizing its numbers for next school year, the district now expects to receive $170,000 more in state aid than what was originally estimated last month. But the district has about $200,000 more in special education costs, canceling out that gain.

The tentative budget includes restoring six teaching positions to reduce class sizes, and giving a 2.5 percent raise to administrators and support staff. Teacher salaries are frozen.

Dedicated teachers for classes such as art and music are not in the budget.

With state lawmakers discussing whether to shift a higher burden of pension costs to school districts, District 26 is budgeting a 1 percent increase in pension costs, or about $120,000.

“We’ve done our best to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” said T. Ferrier, the district’s director of finance and operations. “Unfortunately, we pass our budget before [the state] makes their final decision,” she said.

As part of this budget, the district is replacing six retiring teachers with people with lower salaries, which leads to an estimated $690,000 in savings.

The district is planning $1 million in bond payments and $600,000 in capital improvements.

Among the projects on the slate for the district in the 2013 fiscal year, the district plans to replace fire alarms, the master clock and public address system at Briargate Elementary, and upgrade the school’s electrical system. It also plans additional parking at Cary Junior High, and new flooring at Deer Path Elementary.

Roof replacement at Three Oaks will be split over two budget years, fiscal years 2013 and 2014, Ferrier said.

The budget includes $100,000 for textbook adoption and $300,000 for implementation of a technology plan.

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