Pulaski County schools seeking teacher raises, 19 aides as part of $ 67 million budget request

PULASKI COUNTY, Va. – Leaders with the Pulaski County Public Schools are hoping to add more eyes in the classroom to keep your kids safe.

It is part of a budget request recently submitted to the Pulaski County Board of Supervisors.

The request asks for raises for teachers as well as adding aides for kindergarten instructors.

Kindergarten Teacher Kara Etzel has been in the classroom teaching for 12 years.

“At the beginning of kindergarten some come to us at different levels,” Etzel said.

Etzel mentioned there can be challenges in establishing a routine.

She has 19 kindergarten students, and she feels having an extra pair of hands could be beneficial.

“It takes a while to establish those before students are able to work independently,” Etzel said. “It would be helpful to have an adult in the room help supervise the students to make sure they’re on task.”

The superintendent of Pulaski County Public Schools says the district is seeking to approve nearly a $ 67,000,000 budget.

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School leaders said it is an increase of $ 4,300,000 from last year which includes $ 2,700,000 million coming from the state and an additional $ 1,600,000 from the county.

Part of the money would toward a 5% pay raise for teachers and support staff.

Part of the requests also includes adding 19 full-time paraprofessionals to all kindergarten classrooms.

The budget requests include:

  • The addition of two STEM education teachers for elementary specials programs

  • Another gifted teacher for elementary schools

  • An EMT instructor in the Career and Technical Education program

  • An additional 5th-grade teacher for Snowville Elementary due to increased enrollment.

  • Retirement benefits, health insurance, and salary increases due to re-categorizing current paraprofessionals from part-time to full-time

  • Starting a replacement cycle for Chromebooks

“I think it would be a huge boost to our educational program if we can make this happen. We have been currently declared a childcare desert, so 50 percent of our Kindergartners have never participated in a Pre-K program, ”Dr. Kevin Siers, the Superintendent of Pulaski County Schools said.

For the requests to happen, the school district is seeking an additional $ 1.6 million dollars in additional funding from the county.

“The county like every year wants to fund public education at the highest level, we want to take care of our teachers and take care of our students that is the county’s priority,” Jonathan Sweet, Pulaski County Administrator said.

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County officials say its budget is not balanced yet, they’re waiting on state leaders to finalize its budget.

Once that happens, that’s when county officials can say if they can appropriate additional money for the schools.

“We have continued to provide robust funding over the last five years, we have accomplished the school systems priorities,” Sweet said.

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