Alma school officials will pass on giving base raise increases to employees this year.

While still providing step pay increases as contracted, Alma School District will be unable to provide the usual base pay increase, said Superintendent David Woolly during the regular school board meeting Thursday.

Woolly said the decision is a direct result of state budget cuts.

"It’s 99 percent because we’re getting such a small increase in the per student funding from the state," Woolly said.

Per pupil funding increases this year for Alma are $62, Woolly said. Last year the increase was $128. Per student state increases have been at least $125 for several years, he said.

In his 43 years with the district, Woolly only remembers one other possible time that the district did not give a base salary increase, he said.

Denying the increases is one of the most disappointing things he’s had to do as a superintendent, he said.

"Our people work hard and they’re not paid enough to begin with, and they do a great job with our kids, and to not even be able to give them a token amount to show that is just terrible," Woolly said.

With little industry in Alma to provide substantial property tax monies, at least 80 percent of Alma’s budget comes from state funding, Woolly said. State budget cuts make a big impact on the district, he said.

Alma personnel are usually provided a $500-$1,000 base pay increase, depending on the school district’s budget.

Woolly added that other school districts in Fort Smith and Greenwood also are not giving salary increases this year because of budget cuts.

"If tax cuts are the most important thing to state legislators, that’s how it is," Woolly said. "But if that’s the direction we’re going in Arkansas, something will have to change in public education. We’re working very hard to make sure legislators understand that."

Also during the meeting, Woolly commended industrial technology teacher Mike Fulmer on his successful completion of the Arkansas School Plant Manager program.

"It’s just recognition that he’s been part of the program and went through their certification and completed it. We’re certainly proud of him for having done it," Woolly said.

Board members also approved employing Cody Mann as the head senior girls basketball coach, Mike Raymer as the Junior Navy ROTC instructor, Austin Jay as the assistant band director and Alesia Balch as a special education teacher.