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Schools seek additional funding

Proposed operating budgets for school divisions in Cumberland, Buckingham and Prince Edward counties include requests for additional staff, more vehicles and increased maintenance operations.

Boards of supervisors across the area are considering their fiscal 2016-17 operating budgets — of which a majority of funds go toward public education.

Prince Edward County Schools Superintendent Dr. David Smith said budget goals adopted by the county’s school board include “a 1-percent salary increase for all employees subject to the adopted state budget, additional teachers to expand foreign language courses that were previously cut, hiring additional teachers for the replacement of online instruction (one physics and one biology teacher, two required elementary teachers in grades K-3), meeting the required increases in Virginia Retirement System and health insurance increases, hiring … additional paraprofessionals for reading and math support in grades K-1 and purchasing one school bus.”

Dr. David Smith

Dr. David Smith

Smith said depending on the final budget that will be approved by the county, additional cuts may need to be made from the goals and other areas of the budget.

The budget proposed by the school board totals $26.5 million, $1.6 million more than this fiscal year’s.

In Buckingham, Division Superintendent Dr. Cecil Snead said, “We are hoping to reinstate some recurring budget items back … from cuts that were made years ago through unprecedented times, not unlike many other Virginia school systems. Our budget includes $180,000 for two new school buses and an additional $45,187 for maintenance operations. We are planning for a 2-percent raise for all contracted employees and a 50-cent raise for hourly employees.”

Snead said office aide positions would be expanded at Carter G. Woodson Education Complex.

He said he is proud that the division has been able to work toward equipping each school with one device per student.

Dr. Cecil Snead

Dr. Cecil Snead

“In addition to the (Virginia Department of Education’s) testing company developing testing software to be used with Chromebook and Apple technologies, our technology staff’s austerity is now paying dividends for our instructional programs so that we can continue to move forward offering our students meaningful opportunities,” Snead said.

Snead said the division is proceeding with caution as Virginia Retirement System costs could rise in 2018 for the employer’s share. He said that could mean about $240,000 in more local money under the current contract obligations.

The budget proposed by the school board is $24.2 million, including $669,005 more local money than this fiscal year’s.

Superintendent of Cumberland’s schools Dr. Amy Griffin said the approved 2016-17 budget request for Cumberland schools includes state fund additions for a computer science teacher and part-time English language learning teacher.

Dr. Amy Griffin

Dr. Amy Griffin

“We are requesting $150,000 (in) additional funding from the locality for a special education teacher, special education paraprofessional, special transportation car driver and a part-time transportation dispatcher,” Griffin said.

The budget approved by the school board is for $15.2 million, adding $150,000 more in local money than this fiscal year’s.