Brandywine renews administrator contracts for one year

NILES — Performance pay, administrative contracts and budgets were on the agenda for Monday’s Brandywine Board of Education meeting. Board members hosted the meeting virtually due to the ongoing restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Karen Weimer reported that the district’s administrators will be getting a one-year renewal of their contracts for the 2020-21 year. Some administrators will get raises depending on their level of education and years of experience. Board members are expected to act on the renewal of administrator contracts at an upcoming meeting.

Weimer said that there had been some discussion of cutting administrators’ pay due to ongoing concerns about state aid reductions due to COVID, but that proposal ended up not being brought to the board.

She noted that normally administrators would be getting the same percentage pay raise as teachers get in their contract if budgetary limitations were not a concern. She said administrators’ base salaries will go up at the same rate as teachers’ do only if budget concerns ease. Teachers will be in the final year of a three-year contract in the 2020-21 year.

Board members approved performance pay increases for between 20 and 30 teachers and administrators at Monday’s meeting. Weimer said teachers and administrators rated “highly effective” in their evaluations could apply for the performance pay bonus.

She said the district set aside a total of $5,000 for the performance pay bonuses. Teachers could apply for the bonus and fill out the needed documents. Bonuses were given for a variety of factors such as attendance, communication with parents, professional development and staff committee work.

Business Manager Kathy Holy reported on the status of this year’s and next year’s budgets. The current budget year ends June 30 and the board is expected to approve the third and final budget amendment for the 2019-20 year as well as the proposed new 2020-21 budget later this month.

She said this year’s general fund budget is expected to end with $13.8 million in revenue and $14.3 million in expenditures for a $478,855 deficit. The fund balance will end the fiscal year at $2.54 million or at 17.78 percent of expenditures. The board’s policy is to maintain a fund balance of at least 15 percent of expenditures.

Holy said the district would have ended the year with a surplus with all the changes brought about by the pandemic. While the district saved money on fuel, electricity and other items because of COVID, that was not enough to overcome the expected $700 per pupil cut to the state aid the district is getting this year.

The state aid cut amounts to $938,000 based on $700 multiplied by 1,341 students, Holy said. State aid had been at $8,111 per student and will now be $7,411 per student.

Deficit spending will most likely continue in the upcoming 2020-21 year as state officials are not giving any indication that state aid cuts will be restored. Holy said she is basing the proposed 2020-21 budget on state aid per student staying at $7,411 and for enrollment to dip only slightly.

She said the last time state aid was cut was around 10 years ago when the cut was $470 per pupil. At that time, it took four years to get back to previous state aid levels.

The 2020-21 general fund budget calls for $13.5 million in revenue and $14.3 million in expenditures. That will leave a deficit of $785,390. The fund balance would end next year at $1.75 million which is 12.3 percent of expenditures. That number is below the board’s goal of having a fund balance of at least 15 percent of expenditures.

In action at the meeting, board members approved athletic coaches for the fall, support of the Fifth Year Early Middle College program and student handbooks for the 2020-21 year.

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