- Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:07
- Published on Wednesday, 15 May 2013 10:07
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Colonial Beach School Superintendent Kathleen Beane, admits she is new to the process of budget approval and some aspects of budget execution, but maintains that the town council is obligated to approve the schools’ budget by May 1.
Beane addressed the council at the May 9 work session saying, “I find myself in the humiliating position of having to tell staff that I do not know if they will have a job in the fall.”
Beane has been with the school system for many years. She was recently promoted to Superintendent in December 2012, after former Superintendent Donna Power left the area to pursue a job in Luray.
“I will admit, that being new to this position as of the end of October, I am feeling my way along, and am certainly not yet confident in the entire process,” Beane told the council. “However, we have met every deadline required by law to ensure that the process would not be delayed,” Beane continued.
Beane reminded the council that the school has been in communication with town officials, approved a budget, and presented it to the town by the March 31 deadline. “Since the end of March, we have been waiting for approval of a school budget which, by law, was to have been done by May 1,” Beane told the council.
“I stand before you now asking that you provide me with an approved budget as quickly as possible. Our school division is the largest employer in this town, with approximately 125 people on staff.”
Beane told the council that without an approval from the council, no planning can be done for the replacement of teachers who are leaving, no contracts can be written, and there can be no planning for how to manage outdated facilities. The outdated facilities referred to are three trailers at the elementary school campus, which had not even been considered in the first draft of the budget. These three trailers house classes for Art, Music, Special Education and Title I, the nurse’s station and a computer lab.
Beane has told both school and town officials that the deplorable condition of these trailers will soon pose a health risk to students and staff, if not replaced.
Beane added, “We have had to inform interviewees we cannot give them a salary, or even ensure them the position they’ve applied for will be available, because we do not have an approved budget.”
Mayor Mike Ham responded to the audience and Beane by saying, “One of the quandaries we are in is that the schools’ budget is supposed to be approved by May 1, but the town’s budget isn’t approved until the end of June.”
Ham reminded the audience that a lack of federal funding has created huge shortfall-funding for many school systems.
In February, Beane told the school board that due to over $800,000 in budget cuts from the federal government, Colonial Beach Schools will ask the town and Westmoreland County for an extra $400,000 to avoid layoffs next school year.
In March, Beane requested this extra funding from council. The school system originally started the 2013-2014 school year budget process with an $854,348 shortfall, but has reduced that shortfall to less than half. However, the need for trailer replacement at the elementary school campus could bring the schools’ request for more funding closer to half a million dollars.
After careful planning, the budget staff had managed to eliminate $459,000 from that shortfall. The budget 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 Beane told the council in March.
Ham said at the May meeting, “We’re still probably looking at a $400,000 shortfall,” and warned there may be an increase in real estate property taxes to compensate.
CB Town Council, by law, is required to approve a dollar amount for the school’s budget by May 15, according to Town Manager Val Foulds who refers to State Code 22.1-93. However, she said that the town does not have to approve the entire budget, but is obligated to the amount it does approve.
The council has called a special meeting for Thursday, May 16, at 2 p.m. to discuss the school board budget.