Funding Falls

Published 3:52 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – It appears the County's school system is going to get fewer funds for the current school year if the Governor's proposed caboose budget is approved by the General Assembly.

Next year isn't looking too good, either.

School board members received the news in a report at their January 11 meeting.

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“December 19th was the first indication of what the remainder of this year looks like,” outlined School Director of Finance Cindy Wahrman. “The state based us upon a reduced ADM (average daily membership) of 2,238; we currently are at 2,290 so the $699,000 figure represents what the state projects our enrollment to be at March 31.”

Factoring the current ADM (which is still off of the 2,372 figure used to develop the budget), Ms. Wahrman cited, it changes the shortfall to $433,000 in state funds. (The school receives about $5,400 for each student in state funding.)

“What we did in October when we saw our numbers…(Division Superintendent) Dr. (David) Smith and I went through and have already begun…putting funds away in a reserve line to accommodate what we saw coming with enrollment loss,” Ms. Wahrman detailed.

Exactly where and what cuts are coming was a likely topic for a school board work session scheduled this week.

As for next year, the Governor's budget proposal doesn't look all that promising, either. If fully approved by the General Assembly, the proposed budget would mean $1,170,624 less ($835,654 fewer funds in basic aid and $350,115 less in special education funding) in state funds for the coming year for the school.

Ms. Wahrman cited that the proposal includes a two-cent change in the composite index (a complicated formula that figures a locality's ability to pay and determines a portion of education funding), effectively reducing state funding and passing it to the locality.

In addition, it factors an ADM of 2,180, a further reduction in the estimated number of students.

She noted that adding what is at this point a 10 percent health insurance increase, the elimination of some of the federal programs such as education jobs funds and the VRS (retirement system) increase that they will be “looking at a $2 million budget cut for next year, based on the numbers we know now.”

Also included, Dr. Smith cited, are stimulus funds and jobs fund monies that they've known have a finite lifespan. He noted that they're planning “in such a way that those figures were not gonna have to be automatically replaced from local funding to sustain core positions, for example.”

He noted that the numbers will change.