The joint governing boards, School and Supervisors, met on the evening of Oct. 24. The meeting was billed as a preliminary to budget season.
School Superintendent Dr. Tony Brads began with a power point on an “Overview of Public Education: Funding in Virginia” authored by Kent Dickey, Deputy Superintendent of Finance and Operations in the Virginia Department Of Education.
The 27 page document explained funding from the state , Standards of Quality, (SOQ) incentive programs, categorical programs, Lottery proceeds and supplemental education. funds. It also covered federal funding and funding by the locality. Brads also explained CIP projects on hold, buying buses and numerous items that have been reduced or put on hold. ” We have to maintain the cost to compete as far as employees,” said Brads. He mentioned the STEM Academy and ways the school can keep students competitive in career preparations. He was pleased to endorse the CCAP program and offer a pilot program for 25 graduating seniors to go to community college the upcoming year. He spoke to capacity needs at LBHS and new science rooms. The other capital project is Colonial Elementary and a new Blue Ridge elementary school.
County Administrator Kathleen Guzi covered the county finances that included increases in taxes both real estate rate and Property taxes due to rate increases. However there is little new business. She also listed areas where the county is putting off significant expenditures for numerous departments. Unanticipated spending like the Deracho, the public safety building needing an emergency repair and some water companies that need repairs that will be expensive are also budgeting concerns.
She also had a comprehensive list of places the state has changed funding to the locality like recordation taxes have been changed from 2/3rd to locality 1/3 to state to the direct reverse. Now the state takes 2/3rds. She also covered areas the county has expenditure demands from public safety to capitol projects. Right now with a one time influx, growth is just 1.2 per cent in Botetourt County.
“It is just a snapshot of items we are dealing with,” said Guzi to the joint boards. ” We are trying to position so we will be able to capitalize on it when the economy turns around. We need a multi-year, solid plan.”
Guzi asked for guidance from the board members on how to best develop the long term plan and the real needs of both county and school division.
Perhaps Mike Beahm (known for his down home lingo) from the school board said it best. “Plain and simple we just don’t have enough money… and a lot of it is how we deal with our legislature and how they deal with us…. Maybe we need a different tactic with them.”