Teachers have something to smile about because the chairman of the Caroline Board of Supervisors he “personally” would like to see teachers get a pay increase in Caroline County.
Floyd Thomas, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, made the comment Feb. 11 after supervisors got their first look at the Caroline School Board’s proposed budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Dr. Gregory Killough, superintendent of Caroline Public Schools, presented the spending plan, which totals $40,340,060—an approximately $3.5 million increase over the current year’s budget. Most of that increase—about $2.85 million—would need to come from the local government.
Most supervisors refrained from commenting on the schools’ budget at their Feb. 11 meeting, which marked their first formal presentation on the matter. Thomas of the Mattaponi District, however, shared a few thoughts. He noted that if two localities have an equal cost-per-pupil expenditure, the results are not necessarily the same.
“I think there are a lot of differences in our division because we have such a big transportation cost, and that doesn’t come from the state,” Thomas said. “The county picks up all the transportation costs funding there is.”
He continued, “We’re going to have to sit down and talk a little bit more. I personally would like to see the teachers get a raise.”
The schools’ budget includes $1.5 million in salary increases.
Thomas said, “It’s a process to get to where you are. Our schools didn’t get to where they are overnight, so we’re going to try to get them to where they should be a little sooner than that. But it’s hard to turn a battleship in the middle of an ocean.”
Thomas said the supervisors and School Board would meet for a budget work session shortly after the supervisors’ March 11 meeting. That evening, County Administrator Charles Culley is scheduled to present the county’s budget proposal.
Killough told the supervisors, “Thank you for supporting us, especially with the bonds and supporting us in all the meetings and trying to work together. It’s been wonderful.”
Thomas had also indicated that Caroline contributes below the state average for matching funds from the Commonwealth. Though he was not making any such proposal, he estimated that reaching the state average would require the addition of about 24 cents on the real estate tax rate.
School Board member Mary Anderson of Western Caroline spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, and she clarified that her board is not requesting the state average of matching funds.
“Caroline is a rural county. It doesn’t have the resources that the richer counties have, and we certainly are not asking for that,” Anderson said.
“We also look forward to sitting down, the two boards together, and looking for areas of compromise,” she said. “There are some things that we think we may be able to make more effective use of our money in certain ways, but together we ought to be able to work out meeting the needs the school has without breaking the backs of the county,” she added.
Anderson also stated that the recently approved bond referendum would support only capital needs.
“That bond referendum does not go—any of it—to operating costs,” Anderson said.