School Budget Deficit

Published 5:18 pm Thursday, January 19, 2012

CUMBERLAND – The County's School Board is bracing and setting itself up to do battle against a 2012-2013 budget deficit of $1,078,866, according to information provided during the School Board meeting last week.

This total budget deficit is just a proposed estimate based on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's budget that was first presented in December. The estimate is a working number and is just the beginning of the school's overall draft budget work that also includes input from the County's newly elected Board of Supervisors.

Using the Governor's budget, Cumberland County Public Schools is looking at a decrease in state funding of $282,816, explained Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin to the School Board at the Board's first meeting of 2012 on January 9.

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This decrease in state funding is due to re-benchmarking, a new composite index, and a decrease in enrollment projections, she said.

“Over the years we've been basing our budget on 1,400 students,” offered Dr. Griffin. “Looking at how our enrollment has been going, we want to base this budget on 1,360.”

The school division is also losing federal stimulus funds in the amount of $247,000.

“This is federal money that has come to us each year that has provided about five jobs,” noted the Superintendent about the stimulus money.

The school's administration and School Board will also have to tackle an increase in VRS, Group Life and benefits rates in the amount of $485,000 and an increase in health insurance participation totaling $64,050.

The Governor is proposing the increase in the VRS rates, which correlates to that cost trickling down to localities or in this case the school division.

“That is an increase for us,” said Dr. Griffin. “The whole rates have increased.”

At that point, Chip Jones, assistant superintendent of finance and operations, explained to the School Board that the rate for a “professional staff” member is currently 11.33 percent.

“Next year, it's proposed to go to 16.66,” he said. “That's for professional staff and then your non-professional staff is going to go from a 12.53 to a 15.23, so there is a jump there and then you get into your group life and your retirement credit and it all adds up.”

According to Dr. Griffin, the state has recently put more money into VRS but the rates have also increased for localities in order to fill the gap that currently exists in the state's retirement system.

As of right now, the School Board is scheduled to sit down with the school division's administration for a work session on Monday, January 23. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Middle School media center and is open to the public.

“That's where we'll start discussing the recommendations for possible cuts,” said Dr. Griffin.