The Auburn City Schools Board of Education approved its FY2017 budget this week, which included increased salaries for its teachers thanks to the first state-mandated pay raise for educators since 2014.

The state requires teachers receive a 4 percent raise with the start of the new fiscal year. ACS teachers will begin receiving their raises with the September payroll, which will be the first payroll period related to the 2016-17 teacher contracts, according to Daniel Chesser, ACS public relations specialist.

For FY17, the total gross payroll amounts to $41.75 million, which is an increase of $2.36 million from last year's budget.

The total matching benefits are budgeted at $17.74 million, an increase just shy of $1 million from last year.

"I am pleased that the employees of ACS received a well-deserved pay raise," said ACS Superintendent Karen DeLano in an email. "It should be noted that on average, the raise equaled the increased cost of retirement and insurance."

Health insurance costs did increase this year for employees and for the school system. In total, ACS will pay $9.2 million toward employee health insurance in FY17, which amounts to $9,600 per employee annually. That is a 3.52 percent increase.

For teachers, the cost increases vary.

"It really depends on their position, what their salary is and what coverage they have," said ACS Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Superintendent Dennis Veronese.

Single coverage for teachers is doubling from $15 a month to $30, and family rates are increasing from $30 a month to $207. Teachers with family coverage that includes a spouse will also see an increase in the spousal surcharge, which will now cost $100, making monthly payments $307 total.

Under the state-mandated raise, all certified personnel earning less than $75,000 will receive a 4 percent raise, as well as principals and assistants earning more than $75,000. Other certified personnel earning more than $75,000 are required to receive a minimum 2 percent salary increase.

"Auburn City Schools, Opelika City Schools and Lee County Schools all chose to implement a 4 percent across-the-board salary increase, as did most school districts in Alabama," Chesser said.

ACS teachers are provided pay raises whenever the state approves them, Chesser said. The most recent state-mandated salary increase was in 2014, when the state required all teachers receive a 2 percent raise.

Before that, teachers had not received a raise since before the recession. In 2008, the teachers were granted a 7 percent raise.

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