By Sarah Vogelsong
The School Board at its July 14 meeting approved an amended budget for fiscal year 2015 that would require an additional appropriation of $1.298 million from the Board of Supervisors.
The school budget has gone through a number of iterations this year partly as a result of delays by the General Assembly in passing a state budget and subsequent uncertainty about what funding the county could expect to receive from the state.
According to the FY2015 school budget approved by the School Board on July 14, roughly 65 percent of the school’s operating fund for the next year will come from the state and about 32 percent will come from the county.
The School Board on June 10 approved a lump-sum budget—that is, one that isn’t broken down into line items—of about $42.6 million, which was then submitted to the Board of Supervisors. At a June 24 work session, because of concerns that the state would cut $700,000 from the school budget, the Board of Supervisors voted to appropriate to the schools the amount appropriated in FY2014—about $41.2 million—“with the understanding that that money will be reappropriated once we have the final school budget,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Floyd Thomas.
The $42.5 million budget presented to the School Board July 14 represents an overall reduction of about $70,000 and includes several minor changes from the earlier version.
Director of Budget and Finance Lifen Zhou told the School Board that these changes were in response to the most updated information regarding state funding, as well as the board’s decision to grant eligible support staff a 4 percent pay increase.
“Overall, the main purpose (today) is to have the board amend the budget, and also we want to request the Board of Supervisors for additional appropriation of $1.2 million,” Zhou said to the School Board.
School Board members expressed uncertainty about the ultimate outcome of their request.
“Do we know for a fact the Board of Supervisors is going to fund us?” Madison representative Shawn Kelley asked. “And so is there a contingency plan in the event that they don’t?”
Superintendent Gregory Killough responded that the supervisors “were holding the money because the governor, the House, and the Senate were still struggling and (the supervisors) hadn’t seen any final numbers as of their meeting in June.”
“What we’re hoping is that if we give them this (amended budget), that they would take this and they would go ahead and appropriate the (funds we need),” he said.
A memo included in the board’s agenda packet stated that if the schools did not receive the additional appropriation from the Board of Supervisors, “all categories of expenditure will be impacted. The operations for FY 2015 will have to scale back to below FY 2014 level.”
All members of the School Board who were present voted in favor of approving the amended budget. Mattaponi representative Nancy Carson was absent.
The amended budget will go before the Board of Supervisors at its July 22 meeting.