School Board OKs budget
BOWLING GREEN – The Caroline County School Board adopted its final budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.
The action by the School Board, taken at a special meeting Wednesday, follows a decision by the Board of Supervisors the night before to adopt the county’s overall budget, which included a $350,000 cut in county funds for the school system.
The school division’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget totals $35.5 million, an increase of about $1.5 million – 5 percent – over the current spending plan.
Nearly all of the increase – more than $1.5 million, actually – is being used to fund contributions to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and group life insurance and also a 5.7 percent pay raise for employees covered by the VRS.
Those same employees will begin contributing 5 percent of their salary to the retirement system. Some employees actually may net a smaller paycheck because the raise may not entirely cover their increased taxes.
The budget also includes $117,000 for health insurance benefits and one new item, $40,000 for tuition and transportation to participate in the Commonwealth Governor’s School.
Those expenses actually exceed the additional state aid and the county funds the school division will receive in the next fiscal year. The School Board made up the difference, $171,000, by eliminating an assistant superintendent’s position currently held by Eric Cunningham, who recently resigned to accept a post with a school division in North Carolina, and by achieving some savings in employee turnover.
Earlier this year the School Board adopted a proposed budget that sought $2.4 million in additional county funds. The original budget included, among other things, $120,000 to hire two teachers at the middle school to keep up with increasing enrollment.
Since the final budget does not cover the two additional middle school teaching positions, Killough said he will be seeking to realign staff and enlarge classes somewhat.
He was troubled that the school system was not able to afford raises in the fiscal year for support personnel, said Killough. “I’m really bothered by that one,” he said, “but I can’t do anything about it.”
The special School Board meeting was brief. School Board member George Spaulding asked Killough if he anticipated any leftover funds when the fiscal year ends June 30.
“There won’t be any,” said Killough.
The FY 2013 budget of $35.5 million includes $23.1 million in state aid, $11.2 million in county funds, and $1.1 million in federal funds.
The original budget assumed an increase in state aid of $1.3 million based on the proposed budget of Gov. Bob McDonnell, although most of the increase was offset by increases for employee benefits.
The final state budget appropriated another roughly $500,000 for Caroline County Public Schools, bringing the total increase in state aid to $1.8 million.
The Board of Supervisors initially told the School Board it could expect level funding in the next budget year – the same amount of county funds as in the current budget.
After receiving the overall county budget proposed by assistant county administrator Alan Partin, then acting as interim county administrator, the supervisors asked him to recommend more spending cuts of about $825,000. Partin came back with additional cuts, including a $200,000 reduction in spending for schools. The supervisors, now aware that the school division would receive more state aid than originally expected, voted to increase the cut in county funds for schools from Partin’s recommendation of $200,000 to $350,000.
Supervisor Floyd Thomas said the $350,00 reduction amounted to about 1 percent of the school division total budget, although it amounts to a 3 percent cut in county funds.
At the same time they voted to reduce spending for schools, the supervisors also approved language designating a 6 percent pay increase for all school division employees.
The school division would not have been able to award a 6 percent pay increase to all employees without making additional spending cuts, according to Killough.
At its regular meeting on Monday of this week, the School Board modified its original budget request, reducing the county appropriation to reflect level funding. It was a formality, knowing that the supervisors already had voted to trim county funds by $350,000.
Under the modified budget request and based on level funding, the School Board approved a 6 percent pay increase for all school division personnel as well as $44,000 for athletics and $22,000 for a Wire Area Network – two items that were dropped from the final budget.