Fri08012014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

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CB Schools struggle to balance budget

The Colonial Beach School Board had previously asked the Town of Colonial Beach for an additional almost $400,000 over last year’s budget. Now the CB School System has started the 2013-2014 Budget process with an $854,348 shortfall, and the need for trailer replacement at the elementary school. This could bring the request for more funding to close to half a million dollars.
After careful planning, the budget staff has managed to eliminate $459,000 from that shortfall. The budget has decreased from $7.2 million to $6.75 million. “These are real numbers of what we get and what we spend. This is a real budget and we didn’t inflate anything,” Superintendent Kathleen Beane told the board.

Superintendent Beane addressed the board in February, explaining that over $800,000 in budget cuts were to be expected from the Federal Government. “The budget planning process this year has been thorough, systematic, and carefully reasoned,” Beane said.

Beane announced at the February meeting that in order to deal with these cuts, the School is asking for added local government support from both Westmoreland County and the Town of Colonial Beach in the amount of $2,153,198. This will be an increase of $395,348 above the current level of funding from the town.

Also at the February meeting, School Board Member Wayne Kennedy pointed out that after deducting the increased support of $395,000 from the $827,000 shortfall of federal funding, the School’s budget would be left with a deficit of almost $432,000. Kennedy asked Beane how this proposal would absorb that shortfall.

Beane’s reply was, “We have been able to do some creative work looking at the budget right now, without losing any employees.” Beane said that the specifics would be covered in budget work sessions.

That budget work session took place last Friday at the CB School Board Office, in a cramped meeting room, which left little room for reporters. This reporter for The Journal left a recorder in the meeting room for the first hour, but little more was explained during that first hour, than what was reported at the February meeting. School Board members had anticipated an all-day work session.

One significant issue that was discussed during that first hour was the need to replace three trailers at the Elementary School Campus, which had not even been considered in the current draft budget.

Currently, these three trailers house classes for Art, Music, Special Education, and Title I, the nurse’s station, and a computer lab.

Beane told the board that the deplorable condition of these trailers will soon pose a health risk to both students and staff, if not replaced.

Beane proposes to replace the three trailers with a two-unit mod pod, like the ones presently on the corner of the Elementary School Campus and the Middle School, The two new units would be placed in an ‘L’ shape as close to the top of the hill as possible.

Beane told the board that only one of the trailers would need to be moved out to accommodate the two-unit mod pod, and the other two trailers could have their utilities disconnected and be left there to save removal costs.

The majority of the board felt that it would not be a good idea to leave the two old abandoned trailers on the property, and have directed staff to look for inexpensive ways to have them removed.

School Board Chairman Tim Trivett estimated the cost of the removal of the trailers to be around $40,000.

A specific dollar figure was not available during the meeting for the lease of the proposed new modular units. The town currently pays $147,600 per year in leases for the existing mod pods, according to Director of Finance John Martin.

Director of Federal Programs, Tracey Tunstall, reported some good news to the board. The school is seeking a $300,000 grant for a three-year program to help tutor students after school, but those funds would neither help the budget, nor replace any money for activities now.

Linda Farneth

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