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Power presents budget to committee

Asks members to provide level funding for schools and remit insurance proceeds

School Superintendent Donna Power appeared before the Town Council Budget and Administration Committee on Monday, March 28, and presented the 2011-2012 budget for Colonial Beach schools.

Power’s budget centered on level funding from council in the amount of $1,757,850 and council tendering to the

schools a $250,000 insurance payment that resulted from the conviction and sentencing of Barbara Worrell, former Finance Director who pled guilty in December 2010 to embezzling approximately $350,000 in school revenues.
Citing a projected shortfall of $250,000 in the $6,730,908 budget, the insurance payment would keep the schools operating in the black for the next fiscal year.  Power acknowledged that the schools still owe town council $87,000 out of the $498,617 that accrued over the years 2002-2007.  Power assured committee members that the schools would pay the remaining $87,000 out of the insurance proceeds. 

Power also urged the committee to fund increases for school employees saying, “It has been four years since my teachers and staff have had raises.”  Power noted that by council providing either a 1 percent or a 3 percent increase, it would cost the town $42,574 and $127,723 respectively. The request for salary increases is not part of the proposed budget and was presented as a separate request.  Currently the schools employ 110 employees.  Of special note, central office employees have been cut by 2.5 positions.

Power shared with the committee the steps she has already taken to reduce expenditures without reducing services to students. By garnering consensus from other participating localities, Power was able to negotiate a reduction in the annual payment to a regional special education consortium that provides special education services to Beach students, which netted a savings of $102,999.  

Also proposed by Power is a plan to consolidate transportation services by reducing the runs from using nine buses to four buses.  The transportation plan would use two runs, the first run serving elementary students and the second run serving middle and high school students, and would result in a savings of $51,000.  The buses that are no longer needed can then be sold. 

Power also informed committee members of her plan to propose elimination of tuition payments for out of town students.  At least 28 students have been lost due to their family’s inability to pay tuition.  Power hopes to “recapture my original 28” and add more, which would increase state funding to the schools. Implicit in her plan to increase attendance, Power vowed “to establish a strong acceptance policy” in order to ensure additional students do not inadvertently create a need for additional classrooms. 

In closing, Power advised the committee that she continues “to move the bar higher each year” and that  “We’ve made incredible gains this year in moving toward excellence.” 

Kathy Flanagan

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