PE Boards Talk Budget

Published 4:50 pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – County supervisors and school board members met in a pre-snow meeting last Wednesday. While the school board was yet to finalize their budget request, a preliminary proposal that does not include capital projects will look for an additional $1,387,919 in local funds.

The budget proposal, factoring the latest available figures based on General Assembly budget action, also factors $614,423 less in federal funds and a reduction of $194,670 in state funds.

Overall, with those reductions, the preliminary total budget increases $578,826.

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Director of Finance Cindy Wahrman detailed that the net change in the overall state funding in the General Assembly's conference-approved budget and what was proposed by the governor was an increase of $24,500.

Factoring a reduction of the average daily membership (the figure that calculates the number of students in grades K-12 used to determine a portion of state funding) from 2,270 to 2,180 for the coming budget year, overall state funds are projected to drop $194,670.

In the area of federal funds, the high school turnaround program is drawing close to its end, which means there is a projected reduction of $507,156. It was also cited that federal sequestration would mean an estimated 5.3 percent reduction and that there would be a $3,150 reduction in Carl Perkins funding for materials for a business class; $51,586 less for professional development for math and reading under Title I; $10,916 less in professional development for math under Title II; $3,817 less in Title VI funds for after school tutoring and remediation, teacher instructional professional development; $1,081 less for the pre-school program, and $36,717 less for IDEA funding (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) used for salary, benefits and student support services.

Wahrman also detailed they expect a reduction in the Head Start funding program, which would affect the cafeteria budget.

“At this point, we understand that it will be affected,” Wahrman said. “At what point and what level, we're not sure.”

On the expenditure side of the ledger, the preliminary budget factors a list of additional funding requests. Among the items on the table: a proposed four percent salary increase for all employees, $666,380; a health insurance premium increase of 5.8 percent, $90,000; the addition of a school improvement specialist (which would aid division-wide with the wake of the reduction in high school turnaround funding), $80,450; an additional special education/homebound teacher, $50,000; placing current teachers on the correct salary scale (currently about 17 are on the wrong schedule-salary schedules have been frozen with no raises), $51,800; an elementary school resource officer, $49,400; an additional athletic trainer/weight trainer, $50,000; an elementary school requested increase for occupational therapy/physical therapy services, textbooks and furniture, $83,000; middle school requested increase that includes occupational therapy/physical therapy services and textbooks, $26,562; a high school requested increase that includes occupational therapy/physical therapy services, textbooks and band instruments, $38,587; and two buses and two vans for transportation, $212,789.

Some Discussion

Leigh District Supervisor Don Gantt asked if they shopped health insurance; Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith reported that it has been advertised and that they'll be reviewing proposals shortly.

School officials are expected to take another look at the self-insurance option for employees. Dr. Smith reported that the insurance consultant asked for that as part of the proposal.

“So we'll see whether it looks like there will be a benefit to considering that this year,” he reported.

Gantt offered that he would kind of like to see the County employees and the teachers treated the same.

“If we can do a raise…ya'll do a raise, same with the health insurance,” he said.

He noted that they have “…a pretty hefty increase in there. I don't know that we would be able to match anything close to that with what we're facing.”

<!– 1upcrlf2 –>County Administrator Wade Bartlett would note that it's “too early to tell.”

The County won't have the two percent help with pay from the state. While they are expected to get help for constitutional offices, Bartlett was unsure about social services.

The County would have to fund any increase for County workers.

Dr. Smith highlighted that the two percent the schools receive would only apply to Standards of Quality required positions; he added that there was a small amount for other classified positions-amounting to about another $24,000, which the superintendent assessed was “a drop in the bucket.”

The preliminary school budget factors the four percent pay raise for all school employees.

Asked about the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Dr. Smith reported that it has not been finalized and that it will be part of the final approval of the budget, scheduled for March 20. The board has planned a work session that evening.

The CIP will be prioritized, the superintendent noted.