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School Board looking at adding $2,6 mil to budget request

Brown’s budget request predicated on same amount of local funding as current year

The King George School Board this week heard numerous requests from member Lynn Pardee to increase its budget request to the county by over $2.6M.
No decision has yet been made to send that request up to the Board of Supervisors.
That guidance is expected when the School Board will continue its discussion of a 2010-11 budget proposal this afternoon (January 28) at another budget session prior to its regular meeting tonight.
The School Board appeared to be split on whether to include those additional costs in its budget request, with Pardee pushing hard for them, along with Payne Kilbourn.
It is clear that there will be major cuts in state revenue based on the Governor’s proposed budget.  The General Assembly could end up making those cuts deeper.  
Pardee is saying that the county should pick up the slack, and then some.  She stated, “We need to make sure we are giving them (our students) absolutely everything they need. We don’t hope the supervisors are going to educate our children.  We expect them to and we continue to put pressure on them until they spend the money they need to on our children.”
Pardee added, “And if they aren’t able to do that and not able to look deep enough into the future to see how important this is, then we need some changes in King George.”
The additions requested by Pardee include 2 percent raises across the board for all school employees estimated at $686K, retaining most items that had been deleted by Brown and added new programs, including a foreign language program at the elementary level.
At the previous budget work session on last Wednesday, January 21, Kilbourn gave a long statement at the end of that meeting to provide his position on county funding for the School Board.  
Kilbourn stated last week, “King George County is different.  And we shouldn’t rush to prejudge or to deliver a budget that doesn’t meet the needs that we think we should be meeting and the quality education that we should provide.  The state is clearly projecting a budget deficit next year.  They are in deficit this year.”
He added, “But around us counties are in deficit or close to deficit and are projecting deficits next year.  We are projecting some minor revenue reductions in King George this year, but we still have a general fund surplus that is about $15M over the 15 percent of revenues that’s the county policy.  Clearly, it’s not a good year for a tax increase locally, although that is a topic for another day when you look at our local tax rates and the fact that they have been subsidized by landfill revenues for 10 years.  But we have ways to weather this storm with a budget surplus that is unique, very unique.  So I think it’s important that we not rush to putting together a bare bones budget, but we look at needs-based.  And with this significant budget reserve we have, it may even be a good couple years to make some advances on our neighbors in terms of salaries and salary scales and so forth.  We have that opportunity.”  
Chairperson Sherrie Allwine and Dennis Paulsen responded to Pardee’s requested increases, saying they were not in favor of the additions.  
Renee Parker was undecided, appearing to agree with points made by each faction.
Paulsen said, “Ms. Pardee, I find that list to be admirable and things we truly need to give our children a good education.  But in the current times, I find those requests to be fiscally irresponsible.”
Paulsen had talked up “pay for play” for sports participation at the previous week’s meeting, but it was not brought up this week.  
Pardee stated, “I am not asking them to raise taxes, I am asking them to dip into their rainy day fund.”
Parker said, “I don’t care if they raise taxes or not.”
Allwine said, “Everybody knows this is a tough budget year throughout the state, and we can use these additional needs, but I can’t put it through when they have asked for level funding.”
Parker said, “Until we send it and see what they do, we don’t know.”
Allwine also said, “I don’t want to lose positions.  And I’d rather preserve positions than have class sizes that are unmanageable for the teachers. And if it takes a salary freeze for a year to do that, then I think that’s where we need to go at this point.”
Pardee’s request to add $2.6M to the School Board’s budget request for 2010-11 followed a report from Director of Personnel Bill Wishard who provided an overview of procedures for a possible “reduction in force” (RIF), should that become necessary.  
The School Board could find itself in that situation if the General Assembly ends up making further cuts to the Governor’s proposal for education funding and/or if the Board of Supervisors does not provide the same level of local funding next year as they have in the current year.  
The county had informed Superintendent Candace Brown and all county department heads to not ask for budget increases.  
Brown’s proposed request conforms to the Governor’s budget proposal for $1.4M less state revenue than in the current year.
But it is predicated on the county Board of Supervisors making no such reduction in revenue from the county.
The state is currently saying the required local effort from King George could be reduced by about $1.5M over the current year’s funding from the county.  
Brown’s recommendation contains no salary increases, but does contain four new positions for two special education teachers and two special education paraprofessionals (aides).  
But at the same time it also eliminates one position for a CTE/KGHS guidance counselor vacancy that will not be filled.  
Brown noted that behind-the-wheel driver education has been added back in, saying that fees would cover the costs.
Brown also said that the Head Start program will be cut, which would have required $96K funding in the coming year.
There is no guarantee that the county will be in a position to fund the School Board at its current level given lower revenues and the likelihood of the current economic slowdown continue for the next year.
King George, like the rest of the localities in the region and most across the state, is experiencing reduced revenues and decreasing its own budget for the current year.
The Board of Supervisors have their first budget work sessions set for mid-February.
Wishard also told the School Board that the vast majority of those at the meeting from school divisions across the state said they would not be giving salary increases.
“Almost everybody in the room raised their hands.”
He also related that a majority of division reps also said they were contemplating cuts in salary and cuts in benefits.
~ NUMBERS    Brown’s proposed request for 2009-10 would add up to $33,667,370, compared to the current year’s $35,191,245.  
It would include state revenue of $19,828,433 and local revenue of $12,373,371, the same amount as in the current year.  
That compares to $10,844,644 that would be the “Required local effort” amount from the county under the Standards of Quality in state law.
The remainder of the revenue would be $1,215,566 from federal sources and $250,000 from “other” sources.
If the School Board adds in the items requested by Pardee, it would need an additional $2.6M from the county.

Phyllis Cook



 

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