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School Budget Is Amended

CUMBERLAND – The School Board approved several amendments to the 2012-2013 budget for Cumberland County Public Schools. The amendments are the result of a decrease in funding from Cumberland County's Board of Supervisors and a change in the enrollment numbers projected for next year.

The school division's budget was adopted earlier and sent to the Board of Supervisors for final approval and, now, due to the funding changes, the School Board needed to approve the amendments to the overall budget.

According to Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin, Cumberland County Public Schools is now experiencing a decrease in students, which reduces the state funding that is received.

The projected enrollment for the upcoming year was first set at 1,360 but due to student numbers already decreasing this year the projected enrollment has been amended to 1,332, she said to the School Board.

“Our enrollment has been decreasing-even from January to March,” advised Dr. Griffin. “When we first started planning the budget our enrollment was 1,371 in January and at March 31 at the ADM it was 1,341 so we're trying to make sure that our ADM is not higher than we expect it to be because when state money starts coming in we'll have a deficit.”

According to Dr. Griffin's comments, the economy is affecting Cumberland's enrollment numbers.

“I think the economy has really affected our ADM,” she said. “There are no jobs for people to stay in Cumberland to work at so there's no reason to stay and if you have to commute to other counties and cities then there's the cost in transportation. I believe a lot of families have had to move in with other family members and so I think the economy has really played a hardship in our enrollment.”

She continued to note that the withdrawals are “mostly going to different counties in different locations.”

Also included in the school division's amended budget is the State's mandate of requiring employees that are covered by the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) to pay the employee contribution rate of five percent which was previously covered by the school division. The mandate required VRS covers employees to receive a five percent raise.

Dr. Griffin noted that the division gave a 5.25 percent raise to VRS covered employees.

“That will cover the five percent mandate that goes with the employee contribution,” she said.

The school division will also have its lawn care service needs met by the County's maintenance department in the upcoming year.

This is a reduction of $48,000 from the anticipated budget funding that was requested.

“The Board of Supervisors did not fund this,” she offered about the decrease in $48,000.

Due to the eliminations, the school division will not be filling one teaching position and one technology position on top of the elimination of lawn care services.

These two cuts are on top of the previous reductions in the budget that were adopted by the School Board earlier.

“These two positions that I'm seeing here are two positions beyond what was done in the past?” asked School Board member Dr. Christine Ross about the budget cuts.

“Yes,” responded Dr. Griffin. “They are two positions beyond what was in the proposed budget. And that's because of the decrease in enrollment-we get less state money.”

After the information was provided, School Board member George Reid Jr. asked Dr. Griffin about the Board of Supervisors' switch from first agreeing to include the lawn care services to that now being taken out of the budget?

In earlier budget discussions, including the work session held between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors, the topic of lawn care did arise and the County's administration, at that time, recommended that lawn care services for the school be kept in its budget.

Dr. Griffin said, “You are correct in that and the only changes I know of is different leadership. They probably are going to have to hire a part-time person to do this and their thought was that even though it might cost them some additional money they might be able to get more services from that position than just the cutting of grass.”

After the discussion, the School Board did vote unanimously to approve the amended budget for the school division's upcoming fiscal year.

According to information provided, now that the budget has been approved in its final form the central office began issuing contracts to teachers on Tuesday and support staff contracts will go out next month.