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County school budget concerns aired at meeting
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Henry County school officials outlined budget concerns — but did not ask for increased local funding — Tuesday during a joint meeting with the Henry County Board of Supervisors.
Level local funding of $16,577,895 is being sought, according to an online draft of the school budget.
Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton outlined several concerns, including a slow economic recovery, sequestration (across the board federal cuts which will take effect Friday, barring a budget resolution) and declining enrollment.
Enrollment is projected to decrease from 7,064 in fiscal 2014 to 7,055 in fiscal 2015, he said.
The cost of student lunches will increase by 5 cents, according to Cotton, who noted the increase is mandatory and due to the Equity in School Lunch Pricing Act.
School officials continue to wrestle with questions such as how the division can maintain a high-quality educational program for students within continued budget constraints; how to renovate and upgrade school buildings to ensure an optimal learning environment for students; how to recruit and retain highly qualified staff; how to continue to have necessary resources available to students; and how to withstand the effect of sequestration on federal funding and its impact on the division’s ability to meet mandates.
Also of concern are unpredictable fuel and utility costs and a 10 percent increase in health insurance costs, he said.
The annual insurance premium per employee in the current fiscal year is $6,245, according to the draft budget. In fiscal 2014, the cost is expected to increase to $6,871.
Under Gov. Bob McDonnell’s spending plan, the school division will receive a 3.23 percent increase, from $42,967,916 in fiscal 2013 to $44,357,701 in fiscal 2014, which begins July 1, according to Dawn Lawson, financial officer for the school division.
An additional appropriation of $446,280 is earmarked to help offset 2 percent pay increases for certain employees, Lawson said.
She noted a total of $448,996 is needed for the salary increase because some employees — such as those who are paid by grants — are not covered under McDonnell’s proposal. The school division will have to use alternate funds to pay those increases, she said, but did not elaborate.
The division received more than $9.6 million in federal/state grant programs in the fiscal year that ends June 30. According to the draft budget, the division anticipates the same amount in fiscal 2014.
Supervisors asked no questions and took no action after the presentation.