A First Budget Look

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – Declining enrollments will have an impact in the current school budget and will continue to do so in the coming year.

School board members met in a budget work session last week and took a first look at funding factoring the governor's proposal that was released in December.

The current budget year with the governor's proposed budget adjustments and factoring a reduction of the ADM (average daily membership) from 2,270 to 2,180 is projected to reduce the current budget by a total of $472,458.

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Had the ADM stayed at 2,270, Director of Finance Cindy Wahrman reported, the shortfall would have been $13,800.

“Funds have been set aside to offset that potential revenue reduction,” detailed Wahrman.

She explained that it has come from all categories-instruction, administration, transportation and maintenance.

Looking To 2013-14

The Governor has proposed a two percent pay increase for positions in the SOQ category, chipping in $132,365 for a two percent salary increase, which would require a $64,000 match. It would go to increase pay for teachers, instructional aides, guidance counselors, librarians, assistant principals and principals. But Wahrman noted that it would be short by $37,000 (as it does not include FICA and VRS).

The proposed increase, however, would not go to support staff-such as custodians, maintenance, and secretarial workers. In order to provide a two percent pay increase for all employees, they would need $136,000 in additional funds. Collectively, it would cost $340,000 to provide a two percent pay increase across the board-or a total of about $200,000 in local funds. (The board indicated an interest in providing the increase across the board.)

To provide a four percent pay increase for all school workers, it would cost another $330,000.

Preliminary budget reductions factor $219,173 less in state funds for the coming year, $507,156 less with the culmination of the three year high school turnaround program; and a $177,316 reduction with federal funds (a projected 8.2 percent with sequestration). Impacted funds would include Title I, Title II, Title VI, 6B Flo Thru (SPED), and Perkins-Career Technical Education-1003g School Improvement.

Collectively, the school is looking at $903,645 less in state and federal funding for the coming school year.

“As we look at the $219,000 reduction in state funds, we obviously would need to go through and make operational reductions, we would need to meet with our principals, our directors, our supervisors to see what areas we would be able to identify as potential reduction in expenditures to match that $219,000…,” Wahrman said.

While the school board is projected to have less funding for the coming school year, they will also have to weigh through other proposed expenditures.

In addition to the possible two percent increase in employee salaries across the board ($333,190), the school board will weigh a ten percent health premium increase (which is the trend) at ($152,390), addition of a special education/homebound teacher for the New Horizon Academy ($50,000) expanding services to the alternative school to incorporate special education needs; placing the current teachers on the correct salary scale ($51,800)-for several years salaries were frozen and teachers did not get to remove from probationary to career or probationary to the masters teaching schedule; elementary school resource officer ($49,400), additional athletic trainer/weight trainer ($50,000) which could help with middle school; elementary requested increase-which includes occupational therapist/physical therapist services, textbooks and furniture-($83,000), middle school requested increase-which includes occupational therapist/physical therapist services and textbooks-$26,562; high school requested increase-that includes an occupational therapist/physical therapist services, band instruments (a major need identified for next year include an additional concert tuba or repairs to a second one they already own) and textbooks-$38,587, and two buses and two vans $212,789.

Increases (with an $11,049 reduction in debt service) would total $1,036,699.

Board Vice-Chairwoman Susan Lawman suggested seeking the second two percent for workers, with some noting that if they don't ask they won't receive.

Dr. Smith noted that it's been a long period of time and their salary increases have been very small like most school divisions. He assessed that he doesn't “think there's anything unreasonable about a four percent increase,” noting their costs have gone up every year and the government's calculation of the cost of living index has been held low, that it's been impossible to justify meaningful raises.

It was noted that many costs have gone up and they're asking more of teachers every year.

ADM Issues

The proposed budget will factor a projected adjusted Average Daily Membership (ADM) of 2,180.

“One of the things that makes this really difficult is that when the State of Virginia had divisions stop doing the triennial school census, school divisions all over the state lost the only real ability they had to analyze and project real numbers over the next three years,” Dr. Smith told the board.

The school board was presented class size projections for the elementary and middle schools. Staffing was penciled in as the same (even in one alternate, though one teaching position would be reduced in the second grade and one added to the fourth grade).

One of the things that they are studying, Dr. Smith also cited, is the idea that they may be able to reduce from three to two teams of teachers at the eighth grade, which he said would mean four teaching positions. Current projections, he noted, however, show the current level of staffing at the middle school.

Capital Request

School officials also had a capital improvement budget draft plan. The first year listed athletic complex renovation, football field laser grading the field and reseeding (which would be proposed should the athletic complex renovation is not done), replacing plumbing lines in three buildings that are underground and corroded, and enclosing the fifth grade wing entryway into the main building.

Officials are also expected to follow up on possible grants for the sports complex renovation; a 2009 estimate projected the project at $5.9 million.