Superintendent Presents FY18 Budget Proposal to School Board
Frederick County Schools Superintendent David Sovine presented his FY18 budget proposal to the School Board during the Board’s meeting on February 7. The proposal totals $203.9 million and includes a request for an additional $5.7 million in local funding for the School Operating Fund as well as an additional $3 million for non-recurring capital needs funded through the Capital Projects Fund.
Sovine says, “My budget proposal represents what is needed to maintain our current programs, handle the increase in student enrollment that’s projected for next year and begin to address our most critical operational and capital needs. The School Board’s budget priorities served as a guide for developing my proposal. It is important to note that my proposed budget does not address all of the school division’s needs. Although I’m seeking a 6.1 percent increase in operating expenditures, the funding requests submitted to address significant needs across the school division have already been reduced by approximately $3.4 million dollars.”
Based on Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget amendments, the school division expects to receive about $3.7 million more in state and federal funding in FY18. Sovine’s proposed budget includes those funds in the School Operating Fund which totals $162.6 million. The proposed $9.4 million increase in the School Operating Fund is comprised of three main components: $3.9 million for baseline adjustments (cost to continue current services and programs); $3.8 million to provide all employees with a salary increase; and $1.7 million for instructional, operational and infrastructure needs.
Sovine says, “The biggest drivers behind the baseline budget adjustments are the accelerated payments to the Virginia Retirement System mandated in the Governor’s budget and an expected 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums. Those items alone account for nearly three-quarters of the cost to continue current services and programs.”
The salary initiative included in Sovine’s budget proposal includes $2.9 million for a step increase on current pay scales for all employees (an average 2.5 percent increase divisionwide) as well as $900,000 to improve certain pay scales in order to make them more competitive with comparable jobs in the marketplace.
Sovine says, “As the national teacher shortage persists and its impact continues to be felt locally and across Virginia, it’s critical that we address the School Board’s priority of providing competitive compensation packages that enable the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers and staff. Last year, we were able to provide a two percent salary increase to all employees. Even with that modest increase, about one-third of our teachers saw their net pay decrease due to higher health insurance costs. We remain committed to hiring the best staff possible to work with our students and must continue to focus attention and resources on salaries and benefits.”
Of the additional $1.7 million requested to address instructional, operational and infrastructure needs, $1.1 million will be used to add instructional staff. Sovine says, “Instruction is at the heart of what we do each day and it’s imperative that we have the staff in place to meet the needs of our growing student body.”
Sovine also included a total of $600,000 in his budget proposal in order to replace aging technology equipment, upgrade Internet capacity to support increased use in instruction, and partially restore preventative and routine buildings and grounds maintenance funds. There is also funding included in the School Operating Fund to purchase three school buses.
In addition to seeking increased funding for the School Operating Fund, Sovine has requested the county provide $3 million more for the Capital Projects Fund. He says, “As is the case with my proposed School Operating Fund budget, the additional funds I’m seeking for the Capital Projects Fund are needed to address our most critical needs. These immediate needs include facilities maintenance items such as a roof replacement at Redbud Run Elementary School, replacing aging playground equipment at Armel and Orchard View Elementary Schools, making repairs to the tennis courts at James Wood High School and replacing cooling towers and other equipment that is at the end of its reasonable lifespan at a number of schools. The Capital Projects Fund budget also includes $500,000 to support the replacement schedule for computers and Chromebooks used by students and staff as well as $1.4 million for transportation needs including 10 replacement school buses.”
Sovine added, “Localities are continuing to wrestle with increased fiscal pressure as the state has yet to fully restore reductions in basic aid that date back to 2009. Those reductions placed an increased burden on local governing bodies that remains a challenge today. I, along with the members of the School Board, recognize these challenges and look forward to working together with the Board of Supervisors to discuss a long-term fiscal plan that will enable us to meet our needs in FY18 and beyond as we continue to experience student enrollment growth locally.”
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