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Supervisors postpone remainder of School Board appropriations; call for August joint meeting

At a meeting the previous week on June 24, Supervisors had approved allocations of funding for the first quarter of 2014-15 for schools and all county departments, with the expectation that changes would be coming in the amounts for state revenue at the next meeting in mid-July.

Last week, the governing body unanimously agreed to hold off on the rest of the 2014-15 appropriations until after it has a chance to meet with the School Board.

Supervisors want more information about what changes the School Board made to its approved budget after it had previously gone through county approval by categories with the first quarter appropriations.

A joint meeting between the two elected bodies is expected to take place during a jam-packed agenda for a work session meeting planned for supervisors next month. The meeting is scheduled on Aug. 21, at 6:30 p.m., in the boardroom of the Revercomb Administration building.

INFORMATION NEEDED
At last week’s meeting, Chairman Joe Grzeika had suggested waiting on the remaining appropriations for the school division, saying he had questions.

Grzeika said he’d spoken with division Superintendent Rob Benson earlier in the day and told him he would be suggesting a joint work session on the budget. “I told him there were questions about some of the changes that were made to their budget,” Grzeika said.

Supervisor Dale Sisson agreed, saying “I had a hard time pulling out of these numbers what was going on.”

Sisson reiterated the postponement would not impact current school operations, saying, “I want to make sure it’s clear that we’re not jeopardizing the immediate school operations. That there’s an opportunity for us to have a conversation and make sure we have a full understanding.”

Other supervisors concurred with the amended appropriation resolution passing on a unanimous vote.

WHAT’S CHANGED?
After its budget was approved and first quarter allocations had been made, the School Board subsequently amended its 2014-15 budget amounts and categorical distributions during a special meeting on June 30, as recommended by Benson to reflect lower state revenues.

Supervisors had been informed on June 23 by Robyn Shugart, county director of finance, that the final state budget had included adjustments to state aid due to a change in methodology for calculating state funding for the K-3 Primary Class Size Reduction program.

That change resulted in $316,509 less for King George. Supervisors expected that change.

But that was not the only adjustment made by the School Board a week later on a recommendation by Benson.

ADM ADJUSTMENT
The School Board made other adjustments that resulted in reducing the Instructional category by $257,491.Part of the state’s reduction was made up by the School Board making adjustments to increase the division’s average daily membership (ADM) figure for 2014-15.

That resulted in increasing on paper the anticipated state revenue by hiking the county-approved figure from 4,170 students for next school year to 4,189 students.

That not only changed the bottom line for the School Board’s expenditure budget; it also changed the revenue budget for the county. That ADM change for next year recognized an additional $85,095 in state revenue.

Supervisors likely want to know more about that ADM figure adjustment, after Benson claimed that he anticipated a much lower ADM when the School Board’s budget request was made earlier this year, saying the division could comfortably expect 4,130 students.

WHY?
The reason for the ADM and other budget adjustments was to enable funding 2-percent raises across the board for all employees.

Other adjustments by the School Board included deleting two vacant

Special Education positions that would not be filled since they are no longer needed. Benson noted that freed up $65,834.

Benson also said there was an additional $183,240, by recognizing slack in the budget available from ‘breakage’ using the actual known personnel costs for teachers with new hires coming in at a lower salary to replace higher paid personnel who retired or resigned at the end of the school year.

The resulting new School Board budget amount differs from the previously approved budget adopted by it on June 9, by reducing the Instructional category by $257,491 and by increasing Fund 252 for federal grants by $8,417 and a small adjustment to the Cafeteria Fund.

Phyllis Cook
Staff Reporter

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