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Budget request set at $33.8M

Parker declines to make ’11-’12 presentation to KG supervisors

The King George School Board last week quietly approved its 2011-12 budget request to the county that totals $33,866,144 and includes 2 percent raises for all employees.

In addition to including proposed raises, the budget request also adds an estimated 12 percent cost for the School Board’s share of potential health insurance increases, which

are still not known at this time.

The action to approve the budget request did not take place at a regular business meeting, but instead at a special meeting starting at 4 p.m. on Feb. 23, with the main agenda item being a student discipline hearing behind closed doors.
According to vice chairman Mike Rose, the action to send forward the budget request was unanimous by the four School Board members present, with Dennis Paulsen absent.
Paulsen told The Journal this week he was in agreement with that vote.

At this week’s regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 28, Paulsen asked Superintendent Candace Brown if the date had been set for the School Board’s budget presentation to the Board of Supervisors.

Brown responded, saying, “Mrs. Parker has decided not to do a specific presentation and just have it presented with the county budget.”
Parker is breaking with a decades-long tradition for the School Board chairman, another member, or the superintendent to appear before the Board of Supervisors and provide a presentation and answer questions on the School Board’s budget request.

At a budget meeting on Jan. 24, Parker had stated to her colleagues, “If any of you were the person submitting the budget and standing up at the podium in front of the Board of Supervisors, and it was more than they said, would you have a hard time doing it?”

COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR GUIDANCE
Parker was referring to budget guidance provided to Brown from Donita Harper last fall. Harper is the county’s deputy county administrator/director of finance.
Harper’s budget guidance followed the direction coming from County Administrator Travis Quesenberry and the Board of Supervisors, in line with that sent to county department heads, constitutional officers and agency heads.

Harper’s memo stated, “As you are aware, the economy continues to face challenging times. The governor has again projected shortfalls in revenues and made budget reductions to local funding, including K-12, both the current and next year’s budget.”

It added, “The County Administrator is requesting King George County Schools to prepare a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that maintains the current levels of service, and that does not exceed the actual year end expenditures for fiscal year 09/10.”

BOTTOM LINE NUMBERS
The School Board was originally provided $34,000,000 for its operating budget for the current fiscal year, 2010-11. But that was amended upward to include additional federal revenue, bringing it to $34,658,029.

But it ended last year, 2009-10, with expenditures totaling $32,527,992.
It is significant that the School Board also turned back unspent local funding of $686,427 for 2009-10.

It is also significant that the 2009-10 expenditures included spending last spring of  $61,818 on four new lawnmowers. One of those four lawnmowers was charged to the Instruction category under “Instructional Materials” at a cost of $26,663.98.

Warrant lists also indicate that Brown approved numerous other unplanned expenditures at the end of the fiscal year

RAISES PROPOSED
The School Board’s budget request would provide 2 percent raises for all employees for the coming year.

In January, Brown told the School Board 2 percent raises were estimated to cost $522,994 for all current employees, including administrators.

The last time division employees got pay increases was three years ago, in 2008-09, when 4 percent raises were given to all employees.

Salaries remained level for the next two years, with no raises granted in 2009-10 or for the current budget year, 2010-11.

The money turned back by the School Board could have paid for 2 percent raises in each of those years to at least keep pace with step increases in all the employee salary scales.
Brown’s cost breakdown for 2-percent raises is as follows:

   Teachers - $331,346
   Administrators - $87,080
   Paraprofessionals - $28,214
   Transportation Staff - $25,226
   Secretaries - $17,161
   Custodians - $14.941
   Cafeteria Staff - $8,117
   Maintenance Staff - $5,649
   Technology Staff – 5,260

Phyllis Cook
Staff reporter

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