As the process of finalizing the Clarke County Public Schools Budget for FY12 churns forward, choices must be made and jobs hang in the balance. Thursday evening, Superintendent Mike Murphy made his third presentation on the FY12 budget to a working session of the Clarke County School Board and painted a picture of fiscal challenges. Currently, the FY12 budget has a $397K deficit due in large part to decreased Virginia Department of Education funding associated with 10% decline in CCPS student population over the last five years. Unfunded educational mandates stemming from the Virginia General Assembly have put pressure on the FY12 budget as well. However, the deficit has been mitigated by $493,718 in carried over funds from previous years. This allocation was approved by the Clarke County Board of Supervisors for use on capital expenditures.
“We have options for using the carry over,” said Superintendent Mike Murphy. The options will be affected significantly by what transpires in the coming weeks during the Virginia Legislative session. The current CCPS budget is based on the state budget that Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell submitted. The Virginia House and Senate are debating changes to that budget and both versions, so far, appear to be adding funds back into the mix. The House version would reduce the school budget deficit to approximately $151K and the Senate version would reduce the deficit to only $67K. Final negotiations will in all likelihood put the final number somewhere between the two. The final budget decision from the state will determine the final deficit. That shortfall will then come out of the carry over funds. This means the School Board will not need to go back to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors for any additional funds. It will however impact the amount left in the carryover for capital investments.
Superintendent Murphy identified areas for capital investment in the budget saying, “We want to buy two school buses instead of one. We want to buy 197K more of technology. In capital, those are the big items.”
Those line items would be impacted by the deficit eating into the carryover funds and will be in the balance as the state legislature determines their final budget.
As the picture of the bottom line begins to clarify, the issue of internal numbers, in particular programmatic decisions (i.e. teaching positions) moved to the forefront of the discussion. Because of the close connection of small programs to individual teachers the Board elected to have that discussion in a closed session.
Superintendent Murphy said, “We’re proposing some staff changes. Those staff changes represent 8.16 FTE (Full Time Employee) positions. It could be 10 people, it could be 12 people, it could be 15 people. It’s bits and pieces of people that would add up to 8.16 FTE.” Murphy added, “We have not identified people or positions that will be cut at this time.”