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School district discusses budget effects due to minimum wage hike

School district discussed how to restructure budget to allow for minimum wage hike.
School district discussed how to restructure budget to allow for minimum wage hike.((Source: KAIT-TV))
Updated: Nov. 12, 2018 at 9:10 PM CST
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CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - From a measure voters passed just one week prior, we’re already seeing some effects.

Issue 5, the state minimum wage hike, has a local school district discussing how they will implement the change come Jan. 1.

That switch comes right in the middle of the school year, so the main concern for the Westside Consolidated School District is having to restructure the budget mid-year.

Arkansas' current minimum wage rate will jump from $8.50 per hour to $9.25.

That’s going to cause some needed increases for a handful of positions at Westside, including custodial, food service, and para-professionals.

Superintendent Scott Gauntt said with this first hike, they’re looking at a $7,000 to $10,000 increase.

It’s an amount the school can absorb, but it’s also a budgeting hurdle they’ll face for the next three years.

“Schools run on a fiscal year from July 1 to June 30, and that runs counter to how the government runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31,” Gauntt said. “So what this will do for us is we’ll actually have to figure two separate budgets almost to handle the increase in salaries moving forward.”

The Monday night board meeting was just the beginning of discussions about how the district will handle the first increase.

Gauntt said moving forward the hikes could impact the amount of money usually spent on building maintenance.

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