PCSSD Board Looks At Staff Bonuses, Budget Shortfall

PULASKI COUNTY, Ark. - How about a bonus right before the holiday season? That could happen for Pulaski County Special School District employees. But, there may be a scrooge in the way. It's the budget. 

In 2011, PCSSD was placed under state control because of fiscal distress. It was returned to local control in March 2016. 

The current school board president says the staff haven't received raises since 2010.  The district is looking to give staff members a bonus, while also dealing with a tight budget. 

In the afternoons, Lachon Buckingham and his wife walk their son home from school. 

Their little guy is in the Headstart program at Sherwood Elementary in the Pulaski County Special School District. 

He says the best part about talking to his son after class is seeing him develop and grow, with help from his teachers. 

"They teach him and they learn a lot. It's real good. They like to work with the kids," Buckingham said. 

Dr. Linda Remele is the school board president. She says the board is trying to find a way to compensate staff with an end of the year bonus. 

"They need to be encouraged. Cost of living is going up," Remele said. 

But, she says, because of various construction projects across the district, among other things, money is tight. 

"We'd really like to give them a raise, but right now with the budget, it's a little more than we can make," Remele said. 

She says it's hard to put an exact figure of how much over budget the district is, but says it's a shortfall of less than $20 million dollars. 

"We're looking at the bottom line to make sure we end the year with the amount of money we need so that the state does not have red flags raised," Remele said. 

Buckingham says for as hard as the teachers work for his son, that money is well-earned. 

The board won't say in advance how much of a bonus teachers and staff could receive. This will be discussed at a special board meeting Wednesday. 

Also on the agenda is the search for a new superintendent. PCSSD has been without a permanent leader since the board fired Dr. Jerry Guess in July. 

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