Ruth Wallace and Kathy Sullivan take notes as Dr. Tony Brads gives information about the lack of numbers for the 2013-14 budget.
In the past, by the end of February numbers abounded for the school budget which traditionally is the largest part of the Botetourt County yearly budget. On the 28th of February, the School Board had no numbers to ruminate at the budget committee meeting. All five members were present, Ruth Wallace, Kathy Sullivan, John Alderson, Michael Beahm and Scott Swortzel as well as board of supervisors ex-officios Dr. Mac Scothorn and Billy Martin.
In 2013, no numbers have yet hit the page for the BCPS budget prompting Superintendent Dr. Tony Brads to compare the budget to a recipe “that is missing ingredients.” Thus far the state has sent no definitive numbers as both bodies in the General Assembly as well as the Gov. Bob McDonnell have their own budget plans. The Botetourt County Budget committee has yet to meet, so there are no numbers from the locality, either.
There is some bad news. Division enrollment is down by 125 students compared to the projections. The March 31 for ADM date looms large with only 4,825 students. The 12-13 budget projection is for 4, 950. Thus there will be a shortfall of between $125 -150K in state reimbursement. “It is nothing we did, Kindergarten is down.” He said, “We just do not have the numbers that we did. It is what it is.” For instance he sited, “Botetourt County will graduate over 400 students in June. Only 311 enrolled for Kindergarten this current year.” He speculated the cost of affordable housing and cost of living could be impacting young families from locating here.
Brads wants to clear out the final four per cent of the VRS upgrade mandated last year from Richmond. He would also like to see at least a 2% raise. The idea is to keep the teacher and staff take home pay from decreasing due to covering VRS contributions and also health insurance.
Last month Brads reported the budget for health care might top 6 million. On Thursday, he qualified it. It is more like 4.4 million the school division is responsible for since other costs are for family plans and retirees which pay a portion or all of their premium. A number of ideas are on the table about different plans some with higher deductibles and some with lower plan differences in benefits that Brads equated to Delta Dental plans.
The school division sees support across the spectrum of county and citizens for the proposed STEM Academy for science,technology, engineering and mathematics. The plans are going ahead to form a partnership with VWCC and perhaps other local support to house the STEM Academy at Greenfield Education and Training Center. “Business will support this, we are geeting a jewel.” said Scothorn. Expansion of the welding program at BTEC is also being studied by the Botetoturt Education Foundation, noted Brads. He delivered good news on both programs.
Otherwise, “The Sequestration may affect federal funding, but the division is not too worried,” said Brads. There will likely be an increase in school lunch prices next year at a time where lunch purchases are down due to new federal guidelines for nutrition. Brads said, “It could be a .25 cent increase in lunch price.”
The next budget meeting is March 14 at 5 p.m. prior to the regular school board meeting.