Dr. David Stephens, superintendent of the Vilonia School District, held a meeting, this week, where he went over district financials teachers and staff members. Addressing the staff, he said, he wanted to make them aware of basic funding issues the district is facing this year and next.
He told the staff he is considering not improving the current salary schedule due to a reduction in state funding due to three factors including state funding, building of the new Intermediate School and staffing as well as declining enrollment numbers.
“The truth is, since the legislature determined to reduce the yearly increase to the adequacy target from an annual increase of 2 percent to less than 1 percent, we do not have the funding necessary to simply maintain the salary schedule, let alone improve it,” Stephens said. At Vilonia, in addition to considering no improvement to the salary schedule, officials are also looking at cutting positions that may be vacated due to resignations/retirements, he added.
Also, he said a decrease in enrollment and building the new Intermediate School has played into decisions.
At the minimum, he said, the district will maintain salary schedules. As well, he said, there are no intensions of freezing salary schedules.
“We are not in dire straits like that,” he added. We just need to see what we can do to maintain the salary schedules.
He asked the staff to contact their state representatives and legislatures and tell them to consider addressing this problem by returning to a minimum 2% increase in adequacy funding.
Clarifying the matter, he said, the state is not cutting funding they are cutting the amount they are increasing funding.
In addition, Stephens presented a PowerPoint showing a decline in student at Vilonia for the first time in several years. The district, he said is down about six kids. That is not unique to Vilonia, he added. Other nearby districts report similar findings. The state, he said, is predicting a decline in enrollment for the next 10 years. In 2014, he said, there was an increase of 30 kids.
Below are email addresses where you may contact local representatives and express your thoughts regarding the decrease in adequacy funding and the impact it is potentially making on the district:
EddieJoe.Williams@senate.ar.gov; Jason.email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org and Stephen.Meeks@arkansashouse.org