Leon County schools will spend more than $18 million updating and renovating schools and district buildings in the upcoming school year. The dollars will cover everything from new bathrooms to a barber-shop space at Lively technical center. The biggest chunk of money will go to district-wide maintenance projects that keep schools and buildings operating.
“District-wide could go anywhere. If there’s a need, if carpet needs to be replaced in a wing or room, it gives them the ability to do that right now. If it has a school or specific project listed, those funds are for just that. But the district-wide allows us to react to the needs of the district anywhere," says Jim Connell, Chief of Facilities and Construction for the Leon County School District.
A committee of school and district officers along with a member of the district’s community advisory committee whittled the projects down from a list submitted by school principals and department heads. Projects were funded based on safety, security and need.
The school board has also approved one-to-two percent raises for most of its employees. It's part of a multi-year effort to boost salaries which have been among the lowest in the state, especially among teachers.
“We wish it could be more. We’re within the confines of what we’ve been given and we’re grateful to each of you," said Board Chairwoman Dee Dee Rasmussen.
While most of the dollars will go to boost base pay for employees, teachers will have their pay raises doled out based upon their evaluations. Under a state law, only teachers rated "effective" and "highly effective" will qualify. But that still accounts for most of the district's teachers.