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- Published on Wednesday, 08 June 2011 00:00
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9 teacher assistants to be cut, athletic stipends halved
Colonial Beach students may face the loss of two teachers and nine teacher assistants according to Superintendent Donna Power. During a meeting last week with Town Manager Val Foulds, Power learned that Town Council is looking to cut requested local funding to beach schools by $227,210. Added to that cut in local funding, the school system is also faced with an additional loss of $140,926 from federal ARRA funds. The total shortfall to
the school system for fiscal year 2011/2012 is projected to be $368,136.
“What you don’t see here is all the cuts we’ve already made,” School Board Chairman Tim Trivett said. “We’ve done so many things to try to prevent this from happening.” Changes in bus runs and reduction of transportation staff hours has already been incorporated into the requested budget.
Also reflected in the requested budget is savings of $102,000 from a renegotiated contract to the regional special education program. Further, the requested budget includes a $250,000 insurance payment resulting from the December 2010 conviction of former school finance directot Barbara Worrell on 13 felony charges of embezzlement.
For the last three years, council has slashed local funding for the school budget. In 2009/2010, the schools faced a shortfall of $98,425, affecting instructional supplies, textbooks, transportation and maintenance. In 2010/2011, the schools faced a shortfall of $215,570, which affected custodial supplies, bus fuel, heating services, electrical services and repairs.
The projected $368,136 shortfall for 2011/2012 will result in the elimination of 11 classroom teaching positions, a reduction in contract length for 13 positions, a $17,500 reduction in athletic stipends, a $12,816 reduction in tech software, $3,000 reduction in library supplies and equipment, and elimination of $10,000 for a new driver’s education car.
Power also learned that council was set to approve a $77,900 funding line item to provide raises to school staff. According to Power, “Ethically and morally, I cannot give a raise to teachers while we cut positions.”
The $1,530,640 school budget allocation proposed by town council reflects the Required Local Effort, “RLE,” set by the Virginia State Department of Education. The RLE is based on trends for Average Daily Membership, “ADM,” totals for each school division in Virginia. Average daily membership for Colonial Beach schools has been projected at 543.3 students, even though the current ADM total is 570.5.
ADM totals are calculated twice a year — on Oct. 1 and March 31. If October ADM totals exceed the projected 543.3 students, then town council will have to adjust its local allocation in December.
According to School Board member Mike Looney, “Almost every other jurisdiction is exceeding the minimum required local effort except Colonial Beach.”
Out of 136 school divisions in Virginia, Colonial Beach is in the lowest group of localities who exceed RLE funding requirements. The lowest group consists of 24 localities that provide school funding ranging from zero percent to 25 percent in excess of the requirement, with the largest group, 60 localities, providing RLE funding amounts in excess of 25 percent to 75 percent.
“This is a monumental problem. We have to come up with a balanced budget,” Power said. “When we discuss budget cuts, we are talking about positions.”
Power continued, “I have given you back your school system. All federal programs are in compliance. Our books are open. Our numbers are real.”
Town Council has to pass a budget for 2011/2012 by the end of June as the new fiscal year begins on July 1. It is expected the budget will be on the agenda for the upcoming June 9 council meeting.