LUMBERTON — All state-paid employees of the Public Schools of Robeson County will receive a 1.2 percent salary increase retroactive to July 1, Erica Setzer, the district’s chief finance officer told school board members Tuesday.
Setzer also said that the recently passed state budget provides for five additional annual leave bonus days, days that must be used by employees before June 30, 2013, the end of the current fiscal year.
For the 2012-13 fiscal year, Setzer said the school district will have to revert back to the state $5.8 million, down from the $8.1 million that school officials had expected. Last year’s total funding cut to the district of about $10.5 million, resulted in the initial layoff of about 200 teachers assistants, about 100 of those assistants being hired back last year after the hours for teacher assistants were cut from 7.5 to 6 hours per day.
Both Setzer and Johnny Hunt, the district’s superintendent, said that by keeping the hours down again this year, about 45 remaining teacher assistants still without jobs or not attending school may be able to be hired back.
The $5.8 million reversion must be paid to the state by the end of July. According to Setzer, the district plans to meet the reversion requirement with funds from 100 unfilled and additional teaching spots allocated this year by the state. These unfilled and additional positions cover all but $173,000 of the reversion.
“No teachers will be losing their positions,” Setzer said.
Hunt and Setzer both raised concerns about the state providing the district about $2 million less for transportation than the district needs. About $5.7 million to $6 million will be needed for transportation, Setzer said.
“It costs $15,000 a day to run our buses,” Hunt said. “That’s a lot of money … . We can’t educate our students if we can’t get them to school.”
Both Hunt and Setzer said that state funding is “better than expected.”
“Do I like it? No,” Hunt said. “There’s not a superintendent in the state that likes it. But it could be worse.”
After meeting in closed session, the board named Larry Obeda as the new principal at Lumberton Senior High School. Obeda replaces Steve Gaskins, who is moving to the district’s central office as an assistant superintendent.
Obeda’s appointment is effective immediately.
Obeda is a 10-year employee of the school system, his most recent position being that of child nutrition director. Among his other positions, he has been a guidance counselor and an assistant principal at both Purnell Swett High School and Lumberton High School. This is his first principal’s assignment.
Obeda is a 1984 graduate of Littlefield High School, where he taught history and was coached for three years in basketball by Gaskins.
“My goal is to eventually become an assistant superintendent,” Obeda told The Robesonian this morning. “The higher up you go, the greater the impact you can have on the students.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, three new board members and two incumbents were sworn into to four-year terms by Renae O. Hunt, clerk of Robeson County Superior Court. The newcomers are Randy Lawson, at-large; Gary C. Strickland Jr., District 5; and Mitchell “Bosco” Locklear, District 4. Incumbents sworn in for new terms were JoAnn Chavis Lowery and John Campbell, both at-large.
Michael Smith was elected by board members as their chairman. Loistine P. DeFreece was elected vice chairman.
Among other business:
— Representatives of AT&T presented the board with a certificate recognizing the school district’s participation in the state’s Future for Kids program. AT&T is one of the businesses that participates locally in the program that includes giving students experience in the work place.
— Gaskins, the outgoing principal at Lumberton High School, updated board members on his school’s digital conversion. This school year, Gaskins said, every student will have access to a computer.
— A brief update was given on plans for the annual back-to-school celebration slated for Aug. 2.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.