Due to what Daviess County Public Schools officials forecast as tough times, the district will not be able to provide any pay raises to staff members in the upcoming year, district Superintendent Matt Robbins said.

Next school year’s budget was among many items discussed Tuesday during a DCPS Board of Education virtual luncheon meeting, during which district Director of Finance Sara Harley told board members the district’s tentative working budget is estimated to be “very conservative” at this time.

“There are many unknowns and things are different right now,” Harley said.

Robbins said the district will not be able to afford raises for any employees in the coming year because the economy is expected to take a hard hit. He also said that the district is not planning to increase property tax rates in the fall.

That will impact the amount of revenue coming into the district, he said.

Not having the ability to provide raises is unfortunate, he said, considering that now more than ever educators need to be commended for their hard work during non-traditional instruction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What a tough time not to be able to give staff a raise,” he said. “I get that and lament the fact that we are not able to reward our employees, many of which I call heroes. They have worked harder during this time period than they ordinarily would have in a normal period.”

Board Chairman Tom Payne echoed this sentiment and said that “this would have been a year they definitely deserve a raise.”

Employees who are due what is referred to as a “step raise,” or an increase in their salary due to an increase in experience, will still receive those, Robbins said.

The board also discussed the district’s application for NTI for the 2020-21 school year. DCPS, as well as most other districts across the commonwealth, is currently under an emergency NTI waiver issued by the Kentucky Department of Education so that education could continue in the midst of in-person classes stopping in mid-March.

Jana Beth Francis, DCPS assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said the 2020-21 application will allow the district to use NTI days as needed.

“We are thinking that these would only be used if we knew we were going to be out of school for an extended period of time,” she said. “KDE recommended all districts submit an application.”

Board Member Frank Riney III asked whether NTI could be used for snow days and Francis said the district does not intend to use them for that purpose.

“If we knew we were going to have an extended break, we would start training teachers and students to be prepared for that,” she said. “This is not just for every snow day. It has to be for an extended period of time.”

Board members also discussed the position posting of the district coordinator for fine arts. The position became available following a reorganization after Tony Sparks retired at the end of last year.

Robbins said this position is a symbolic and important visible step the district is making in terms of elevating its fine arts and performing arts programming.

Payne said he supports the creation of this full-time position and he and the whole board supports the fine arts program.

“This, in a way, validates that, and we are looking forward to seeing where that will go in the near future,” Payne said.

The board will consider for approval the NTI application, the tentative working budget for the 2020-21 school year, as well as the new full-time fine arts coordinator position, among other items, at its 4:30 p.m. virtual meeting Thursday.

To view the meeting visit https://www.youtube.com/user/DCPSTV/live.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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