- Last Updated on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:20
- Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2012 23:20
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The King George School Board unanimously voted this week on Monday, Feb. 13, to implement 2 percent raises for all contracted employees retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.
The last time division employees received a pay hike was nearly four years ago, in July 2008. Raises have been on hold since that time due to the beginnings of the sliding economy, which remains sluggish overall, but is particularly affecting states and localities going forward into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.
That’s because state and local tax revenues are decreasing and two-year federal stimulus dollars
drying up, along with a proposal by the Governor for a huge hike in Virginia Retirement System (VRS) costs.
The action to approve higher pay was taken by the School Board following a review of the status of the current year’s finances.
STATUS OF 2011-12 BUDGET FOR CURRENT YEAR
Chairman Mike Rose indicated some cuts that had been made and certain excesses that were found in various areas of the 2011-12 budget. He also noted that a faulty figure was used in computing the original shortfall estimate by the division.
He said all those adjustments and corrections result in the School Board cutting its proposed shortfall from an estimated $399,829 in early January to a current estimated shortfall of only $29,798.
He noted that the Board of Supervisors had promised an additional allocation, if necessary, later this spring. At a joint meeting on Jan. 31, Supervisors pledged to cover a potential shortfall by infusing up to $150,000 into the current year’s School Board’s allocation.
Rose noted in his slide presentation that his numbers are based on an “average daily membership” (ADM) of 4,070 students. ADM is a calculation based on a daily cumulative average of enrolled students over the entire school year divided by 180 days of school. That’s the figure on which state revenue is based.
Enrollment and resulting ADM is lower this school year than anticipated and budgeted. An ADM of 4,070 had been bandied about by former Superintendent Candace Brown as early as a meeting on Nov. 14.
Enrollment has fluctuated over the last three months since then, mostly downward. So it is not clear whether that 4,070 ADM number is current, particularly since the state recalculated it in December at a lower figure of 4,058. The state is usually generous in its enrollment estimates, but the current figure is lower than the division is using, which makes it potentially suspect.
HEARING ON 2012-13 FUNDING PROPOSAL
The School Board held its required public hearing on its funding proposal at the same meeting. That attracted eight speakers and a large audience of backers, with seven of them urging establishment of a Commonwealth Governor’s School (CGS) site at King George High School this fall.
Speakers in favor of CGS included Alison Daughtridge, Daniel Grigg, Randy Grigg, Betty Grigg, Terri Rinko, Monica Hartnett, and Bill Robie.
KGHS student Quoc Doung also spoke to ask if the division’s funding for the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School would be adversely affected by funding and establishing a CGS site.
Rose told him funding for the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School would not be affected. Eligible KGHS students travel to Caroline’s site for inclusion in that program.
Rose went on to say that the School Board intends to renovate the former Vo-Tech building adjacent to the high school, saying it was his intention that the division use the Vo-Tech building as a site for both of the Governor’s schools in the county.
The precise costs of the startup and first-year operation of a CGS site at KGHS are somewhat muddied, since various documents have been distributed containing cost figures, some duplicative and others conflicting with previous estimates.
A cost sheet distributed on Jan. 30 indicated first year operating costs at $157,000. A complete cost breakdown has been requested by the School Board to reconcile competing numbers and to take all costs and savings for current tuition and transport into consideration, along with actual costs for technology and other equipment and supplies, including instructional materials and supplies.
Prior to the hearing on the budget, that same day, the School Board held a budget work session. During that they trimmed the proposed funding request in some areas, mostly cutting back on some new requests from the administration.
Later, near the end of the second meeting that same day, some additional costs for transportation were added in, mostly for salaries for more drivers, non-funded bus runs and higher estimates for fuel.
Truncating the 2012-13 funding review into two sessions, separated by a couple of hours, provided some confusion as to where the current funding request for next fiscal year currently stood, along with changes made on the fly.
It appears that the current request would ask the county for $2,541,499 more in local funds than provided in the current year with fewer students expected. But there remain a lot of unknowns.
That estimated increase includes a 10-percent hike in health insurance costs of nearly $2 million. That actual cost is completely unknown at this time. It’s hoped that health insurance costs might instead go down, as they did last year.
That increase also includes a hike in state VRS costs of over $1 million that has yet to be approved by the General Assembly.
$280,000 is being estimated as the revenue from each penny of real estate tax. If the current funding level is requested and then also approved by the Board of Supervisors, that proposed increase is estimated to equate to a real estate tax hike of about nine cents.
But the School Board has a final budget work session scheduled for Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. At that time it is expected to review a wide range of potential cuts to be listed by interim superintendent Stanley Jones.