Board will hold public hearing on school budget

Published 10:23 am Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dr. Barbara Johnson

The Prince Edward County School Board will hold a public hearing on it fiscal year (FY) 2017-18 budget Wednesday at 6 p.m. following the rescheduled joint school board and board of supervisors’ finance committee meeting.

The hearing will be held in Dr. James M. Anderson School Board Conference Room.

The public hearing will take place during the school board meeting.

According to the the school board’s strategic plan revisions from Feb. 6, the board’s goals for the FY 2017-18 budget include maintaining mandated staffing to ensure an optimal student-teacher ratio, developing a robotics elective class or program for fifth- through eighth-grade students, increasing technology access via Chromebooks, expanding opportunities for online learning and hiring an additional physical education teacher.

The plan revisions also call for stipends given to faculty for those with master’s degrees, which implicates $2,730 in the budget from the general fund, those who are department chairs, which would total $12,918 from the general fund, those who help with extra-curricular activities, which would add up to $3,047, and increasing doctoral stipends to ensure alignment between teacher and administrator salary scales.

The board is looking to provide a 1.5 percent bonus to all employees, amounting to $209,784 from the general fund, a Virginia Retirement System (VRS) increase amounting to $233,526 and providing required health insurance premium increases amounting to $272,645.

The board is looking to identify and seek alternative sources of funding, such as grants, that will support the goals of the school division.

The strategic plan identifies student matriculation as a need for an extra fourth-grade teacher. The extra position could cost the division about $56,752.

The division has seen a 24-student increase in enrollment in the current school year, a trend carried over from the 2015-16 school year that began to reverse a 2014-15 school year decrease.

In August, the division started with an increase of 26 students — 2,035 divisionwide —- compared to an enrollment of 2,009 students in May.

“We are excited about the current increase in student enrollment, especially at the elementary and middle schools, which have seen the largest increase since the first month of school,” said Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara A. Johnson.

“As a division, we remain committed to providing all of our students a quality education,” Johnson said.

The teacher who would be involved in the proposed robotics program — who the strategic plan states could also be a mathematics or science teacher — would cost $56,752 the on top of $20,000 for the programming of the class.