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School budget hearing draws 10 comments

Ten people showed up to speak at this week’s public hearing by the King George School Board on its proposed budget request. The hearing was held on Feb. 18 with about 25 people attending.

Half of those speaking were in favor of more money for teachers and other instructional personnel, along with some questions on other budget matters. The other half were pushing for more money for needs at Potomac Elementary, one of the three county elementary schools.
Chairman John Davis allowed a free-wheeling discussion, with a fair amount of dialogue between members of the public and School Board members, and some taking multiple turns at the podium.

Those asking for salary increases and with other budget concerns included Koontz Campbell, Dreda Newman, Yvonne Richard, Tammy Indseth and Shawn Lawrence, who also announced he intended to run for election this November for the Shiloh seat on the Board of Supervisors.

Those lobbying for more money for Potomac were Blaise Corbett, Mike White, Natalia Deloatch, Jessica Primerano and Erin Beardsley.

CURRENT BUDGET REQUEST
The amount of local funds being requested has dropped from the amount Superintendent Rob Benson and the School Board told Supervisors they wanted at a joint meeting on Feb. 5. At that point, the amount of county money being requested was $15,798,959, which was $2,449,606 more than in the current year.

The most recent budget document distributed by the division administration put the figure at $15,375,423, which is still $2,026,070 over the amount the county is providing in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

That number reflects some cuts that Benson suggested, which included cutting one of two new central office positions he had proposed, in addition to delaying adoption and purchase for two sets of K-12 text books for next year.

Instead, the current plan for book-buying is to put off the purchase of Language Arts/English textbooks until 2014-15, and go forward with science textbooks for all grade levels in the upcoming year.

It also reflects a somewhat smaller increase in health insurance and for FICA payroll costs.

Health insurance is expected to go up 3.8 percent, instead of the 4 percent that was calculated in the working budget request draft. Likewise, FICA had been calculated at .077 and it was corrected and recalculated at .0765. Those two small changes rippling through the proposed request can add up to a chunk of money in a division with over 500 employees.

RAISES
The draft request contains costs for two percent raises for all employees. Benson’s previous draft request estimated that cost at $514,860, which may have experienced a small adjustment since.

Benson has said the proposed budget draft request currently includes the cost of raises in the amount requested from the county and not any from the state. That is expected to change.

Rick Randall noted that the county board is still waiting on firm budget figures from Richmond.

The General Assembly is still hammering out differing versions of legislation that would provide some funding for raises.

The question remains how much the division might get to offset the estimated half a million dollars currently being requested for two percent raises across the board for all employees. 

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