Level funding proposed for schools

Published 10:47 am Thursday, April 6, 2017

In its advertised budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, Cumberland County supervisors are proposing to level-fund the schools, giving the division the same amount of local money it received in the current fiscal year despite the school board asking for $300,000 in additional funds.

The proposed $31 million county budget includes no tax increases.

According to the proposed budget, local funding for the school operating fund is $3,774,419.

Cumberland County Administrator and County Attorney Vivian Seay Giles said county supervisors have yet to finalize the budget, adding that funding for the division could change once the budget is finalized.

Supervisors must hold a public hearing before adopting the budget.

“The local funding is exactly the same in the proposed budget (as it is in the existing fiscal year’s budget). What the board will ultimately vote for is yet to be seen,” said Giles. “I’m not sure about federal and state funding; we don’t have any control over (that).”

Vivian Seay Giles

Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin has said the school board’s proposed budget was the least amount of money the schools needed.

“We have developed a school operating budget that meets the minimal needs of the school division while being sensitive to the local economy,” Griffin said.

“With an increase in (Virginia Retirement System) benefits and special education costs, we are asking for additional local funding to cover these mandated costs, plus a one-percent salary supplement for all employees — excluding administrators — to assist with retaining and recruiting quality staff.”

The county budget, compared to this year’s, reflects a difference of $39,085, according to Giles.

She said the increase is “attributable to an increase in state (Compensation Board) funding, offset by a slight decrease in projected property tax revenues.”

The county is projected to receive about $14.1 million in general fund revenue, including more than $8.5 million in general property taxes, almost one million dollars in other local taxes and approximately $1.3 million in miscellaneous revenue. The proposed budget also expects $2.5 million in funding from the commonwealth.

Additionally, the proposed budget calls for $2.9 million in funding for public safety. This includes $124,000 for funding to Cumberland and Cartersville Volunteer Fire Departments ($45,000 to Cumberland and $39,500 to Cartersville) and the Randolph Fire Department ($39,500). Other proposed public safety items include $1.6 million for the sheriff’s office, $65,289 for a school resource officer and $275,000 for correction and detention services.

Just more than $115,000 will go to fund the library, according to the proposed budget. The budget also calls for $8,000 in funding for Southside Virginia Community College. A proposed $183,526 will go to funding for community development, including $70,239 for the Planning and Zoning Department, $10,590 going to support STEPS, Inc. and $2,500 in funding to the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center.

The board of supervisors will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the circuit courtroom in the courthouse.