PE School Board Discusses Budget Issues

Published 11:27 am Tuesday, March 3, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — County school board members met in a budget work session last week and took a detailed look at potential funding numbers based on General Assembly budget proposals.

Again, they will have their challenges.

Factoring reduced student numbers and looking at the Governor’s proposed budget, minus any funds for teacher pay increases, there would be $536,083 less in state funds for the coming budget year. The Senate and House of Delegates budget versions that do include a 1.5 percent pay increase for Standards of Quality funded instructional and support positions, would translate into $434,132 less in the Senate version and $597,441 fewer dollars in the House. (SOQ funding does not calculate pay increases for all positions.)

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And that doesn’t count additional funding requests, which would have to be picked up through local funds and make for some tough sledding.

There are also other unknowns, such as the funding for the pre-school initiative. The Governor’s and Senate budget base funding on 116 program slots (an increase from the currently funded 98); the House version factors 73 slots. If they have to reduce to the lower number, Division Superintendent Dr. David Smith said they would have to reduce staff accordingly, likely meaning the loss of two teachers and two aides.

Other challenges include an anticipated increase in health insurance costs, savings in an expected reduction in the rate paid into the Virginia Retirement System and a reduction in debt service. Collectively, it translates into a preliminary $130,380 increase.

Then there’s things school officials would like to add, including the proposed two percent pay increase for all employees ($371,980), moving from a three to a two tier salary schedule ($33,000), purchasing three replacement buses ($300,000), and adding elementary kindergarten classroom aides ($270,000). There’s also a list of requests from maintenance and updating the webpage, and unfunded items from the current budget year. The cost estimate for a rigorous mandated summer school program was yet to be determined.

In all, factoring the increases with the reduction in anticipated state funds, existing estimates translate into $1,763,614 that would need to come through local funding.