- Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:29
- Published on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 19:29
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Instead of providing a recommended budget to the King George School Board, Superintendent Candace Brown provided two proposals at Monday’s budget meeting on Jan. 24.
One totals $32,527,001 and the other totals $33,851,935.
Members of the School Board were mixed in their response to Brown’s two budget proposals, but it was hard to tell.
That’s because some School Board members wanted to start with the lower budgeting amount and make a case for adding in more money to end up with a higher request to the county.
Others wanted to start with the higher number and see if it could be trimmed to get it smaller.
AVERAGE DAILY MEMBERSHIP
Both budgets are based on the state’s estimate for average daily membership (ADM) of 4,165 students for 2011-12.
The ADM number is tracked closely by the state, with revisions at various times throughout the year. If ADM goes up, the division gets more state funding. If it goes down, state funding is reduced.
That 4,165 ADM figure for next year compares to an ADM for the current year of 4,094, which was adjusted by the state last month on Dec. 17, down from 4,116 estimated March 18, 2010.
But Brown provided a recent enrollment number at the last meeting, saying the division had 4,224 students on Jan. 5.
The enrollment count can be misleading because it is only a snapshot that is not relevant without a lot more information. ADM is based on a calculation computed by adding up the number of students actually enrolled each day of the school year, then dividing by 180, the number of school days.
BOTH BUDGET PROPOSALS
Neither budget proposal provides raises for any employee groups.
School Board members want to try to come up with a 2 percent increase for all employees. That is estimated by Brown to cost $522,994 for all groups, including administrators.
Both budget proposals contain adjustments to reflect the actual employee costs to the division for salaries, benefits and stipends, as of Jan. 10.
Brown stated that payments for the Virginia Retirement System are also going up, so she added in that increase.
Brown said health insurance cost changes are still an unknown at this point, saying it had been “all over the map” in recent years, sometimes higher and sometimes lower than the preceding year.
Both budget proposals include adjustments reflecting costs for utility costs over the last 12 months, along with those for phone bills and vehicle fleet insurance.
When utility costs were mentioned, Mike Rose asked Brown, “Whatever happened to this whole energy savings initiative?’
Brown related that there are “some glitches with contract negotiations” with the selected offeror, Energy Education Inc. She also said, “It’s in the hands of the attorneys.”
The only the way the difference in the two budget amounts could be made up is by getting the county to provide additional funding.
The state has calculated the minimum amount of the county’s share of school funding for 2011-12 to be about $9.1 million.
$32,527,001 – PER COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR GUIDANCE
Under the first budget proposal, the School Board would request the county to chip in $11,475,612, which is $1.66 million more than the state says is the required local match.
That compares to local funding for the current year at $14.2 million.
To come up with that amount for the current year, supervisors had to dig deeply into county reserve funds.
The lower of the two budget proposals totals $32.5 million, with Brown saying the amount was arrived at by using the total amount expended in the last complete fiscal year 2009-10.
But 2009-10 was not a tight budget, since the school administration ended the year this past June with an unspent budget surplus of $686,427, after spending more than $60,000 on four riding lawnmowers that were not in the original budget.
County Administrator Travis Quesenberry has provided budget guidance to the school division and all county departments.
The direction was to prepare and present a budget for the upcoming fiscal year that maintains the current levels of service and does not exceed the actual year-end expenditures for fiscal year 2009-10.
Brown said that budget would trim two elementary teaching positions through attrition, along with a business teaching position at the high school, in addition to cuts for purchased services and for office supplies and library materials.
It would also cut instrument purchases in the music program, but would not reduce athletic supplies. Some other purchased services would also be reduced. It would cut $12,000 for employee tuition reimbursement and reduce an unspecified amount for substitutes.
Dennis Paulsen asked for a listing showing items proposed for trimming, along with the amounts.
Brown distributed a sheet listing items to be adjusted, but with no corresponding monetary amounts.
$33,851,935 - STATUS QUO BUDGET PROPOSAL
The higher budget proposal totals $33.85 million, which Brown referred to as a “maintenance” or “status quo” budget.
Brown said this proposal did not contain any major cuts, no reductions in positions or programs, purchased services, nor educational materials and supplies.
Under this budget proposal, the School Board would request the county to provide about $13.8 million.
SCHOOL BOARD COMMENTS
Chairman Renee Parker mused, saying, “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?”
Paulsen said, “We are supposed to be fiscally responsible, but if our funding doesn’t give us enough to be able to provide what we were elected to do, if we don’t have the funding to provide a good education, then we will have to go back and start cutting programs and cutting teachers. I know I say this every year, but its true — there’s just no place to cut.”
Rick Randall said, “I think we must make it crystal clear that there is no room to go up in anything.”
Lynn Pardee stated, “You don’t create a budget and say ‘I’ll go back to Mom and Dad if we run out of money’.” Pardee repeatedly said they should create a budget that serves the division’s needs, adding, “I feel very sure we can do that and by 6 p.m. tonight.”
Rose said he disagreed.
Pardee countered, “Well, you are wrong because you work for the children of this county and not for the supervisors.”
UPCOMING BUDGET MEETINGS
Budget meetings are currently set for Jan. 31 and Feb. 7, both starting at 4 p.m. The School Board is slated to hold a public hearing on Monday, Feb. 14, at a meeting that starts at 6 p.m.