The Clarke County Public Schools budget rolled out the printer and into the hands of the Board of Supervisors last night just a few hours before a 7:00pm joint work session between the two governing bodies. The just-in-time-delivery of the 50-page budget document caused some frustration for the lawmakers who were getting their first look at the school’s $26,192,890 spending plan.
School Board member Chip Schutte (White Post) presented the plan on behalf of the School Board. Schutte said that cost increases over the FY12 budget stemmed from three major areas; $281K to cover a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for school staff, $850K in Richmond-mandated Virginia Retirement System and health insurance increases and $325K to cover the school’s cost of a County-wide enterprise resource planning system.
“These three major areas are responsible for the budget increase” Schutte said. “All of the other increases have been offset by cuts.
Schutte said that an additional $140K needed to hire four additional teachers had been offset by cost cutting in other areas.
Schutte said that the staff salary increase was especially important.
“We need to figure out how to keep our teachers” Schutte said. “Our highest priority is to keep the teachers that we have and to be able to go into the marketplace and hire the teachers that we need.”
Schutte also reminded the Supervisors said that since 2007 the CCPS budget has only increased $1.1 aside from increases mandated by the State of Virginia that the School Board had no control over.
After completing his presentation Schutte asked the Supervisors if there were any questions about the proposed budget.
“There may be questions but we only received the document this afternoon” said Supervisor chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville).
Other Supervisors concurred with Hobert’s sentiments.
“I wished we could have gotten it earlier,” said David Weiss (Buckmarsh). “It would have made for a better discussion.”
Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood) questioned how the public could have had much input into the budget process with the final budget document being presented so late and encouraged the School Board to publish the budget packet earlier in the future.
“In order to really get input at a public hearing you need to advance your process” Staelin said
Last night’s budget work session provided the Supervisors with the opportunity to discuss the types of spending requests that the School Board is requesting and to provide advice about funding decisions. The Supervisors and School Board discussed the estimated $300K increase in utility costs at the new Clarke County High School, the school bus replacement schedule and food service management costs.
After the meeting Supervisors Hobert and Staelin said that even though the proposed 8% increase in the school operating fund was being partially offset by a 6.6% increase in state and federal funds, the proposed $1,028,033 school operating budget is an overall increase of 10.3% that, if approved, will have to be made up at the County budget level,
Staelin said that the final actual school budget cost to the County will remain a mystery until the Commonwealth of Virginia finalizes its budget.
“We will all be watching closely to see what the state does and what impact that will have on our local budget” Staelin said.
The Clarke County Finance Committee meets on Thursday at 5:00 pm.
View the proposed CCPS FY2013 budget document here: 2012-03-07_bos_budget_work_session_school_board_presentation_fy2013_proposed_school_budget