PE Schools Okay Budget

Published 4:42 pm Thursday, May 9, 2013

PRINCE EDWARD – Following months of budget work and County board of supervisors' budget approval, the school board officially closed the book on the 2013-14 school budget Wednesday afternoon.

The schools did not receive the additional $1.37 million in local funding as requested and on the cutting floor:

*A reduced pay increase, from a proposed four percent to two percent, a savings of $333,190.

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*Moving a school improvement specialist position to federal funding, saving $80,450.

*Reducing a projected occupational therapist/physical therapist services increase from $75,000 to $46,875.

*Not funding a plan to place teachers on the correct salary scale, saving $51,800.

*Not funding the elementary school's requested increase, saving $33,000, middle school's requested increase, saving $6,562, or the high school's requested increase, saving $33,587.

*Reassigning a special education teacher for the special education/homebound position, saving $50,000.

*Not funding an athletic trainer/weight trainer position, saving $50,000, or funding an elementary school resource officer, saving $49,400, or two buses and two vans, saving $212,789.

*Outsourcing custodial services (a decision that was made at an April 24 work session) saving $133,818, and reducing one special education teacher position (through attrition) saving $66,300.

Collectively, the final budget cuts aimed at balancing the budget totaled $1,147,771. Overall, the total $25,097,135 budget factors $614,423 fewer federal dollars for the coming year, $194,670 less state dollars, and a $240,148 increase in local funding.

County supervisors have previously agreed to chip in the additional funding (which totals $8,346,800) to fund (with a portion of state funds) the two percent salary increase for all employees, monies for the 5.8 percent increase in the current health insurance plans ($90,000), and matching funds for a reading specialist ($19,369).

The school board's original budget request factored a $1.37 million increase in local funding, but the county opted to advertise a budget with no tax increase and no additional funding. However, supervisors, in adopting their final budget plan, agreed with the school board's request to include the $240,148 for the pay increase, insurance costs, and the reading specialist position.

In separate budget news, school board members discussed responding in writing to The Herald's editorial regarding the school's budget.

“Has anyone responded where he semi-belittled us for not pushing stronger,” asked board member Dr. Lawrence Varner. “Should we as a school board contact him or write a letter in response? Certainly makes it looks like we were asleep at the wheel when that was not the case.”

School officials are expected to draft a response.

The school board, in approving their budget, also will look to a lower premium for general property, fleet, worker's compensation and student insurance. The board agreed to allow the superintendent to enter into an agreement with one of two firms-whichever is determined to be in the school's best interest.

The savings, the superintendent suggested, could be applied to one of the items on their cut list.