SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES 2013-14 BUDGET
Budget keeps Fort Lewis Elementary open, no layoffs of full-time employees
ROANOKE – The School Board approved the 2013-2014 budget at their regular meeting on March 14. The proposed budget includes the county revenue sharing allocation which is not final is pending final local tax projections. The total general fund budget for the 2013-14 school year is $133,799,052. The approved budget may be revised at a later date, if necessary, to balance to the Board of Supervisors final funding level.
The proposed budget covered a budget deficit of $1.7 million resulting from reductions in state revenue and increased costs to cover obligations such as the sequestration cuts to special education, declining special education grant funding, utility costs, and health and dental insurance rates.
Highlights of the approved budget include:
No full-time employees will be laid off or furloughed.
Positions will be eliminated through already approved retirements or resignations.
Increase in the health and dental insurance rates will be funded from reserves to prevent participating employees from having a reduction in net pay due to the rate increases.
No salary increase in 2013-14.
Fort Lewis Elementary will remain open for 2013-14 and plans will commence immediately to install air conditioning in the school gym that was placed on hold while the decision to close the school was pending.
Sequestration cuts to special education will be funded by the operating budget so those services can be maintained. Sequestration cuts to high risk programs and career and technical education will not be funded as those services are not mandated. Funding those services would have required additional budget cuts.
A custodial pilot program will be implemented at Cave Spring Elementary, Cave Spring Middle, and Hidden Valley High Schools, which created budget savings.
Bus fuel budget will be reduced using a new method of locking in diesel rates in advance, creating additional budget savings.
Student laptop program will be funded with a lease enabling the restoration of a funding source for the program and building in a refresh program to enhance the sustainability of the program.
The School Board approved a 3.75% raise along with the 5% VRS increase for employees in the budget for 2012-13 with 100% local funding. Despite efforts to get credit for taking action a year earlier than the state, neither the General Assembly nor the governor supported allowing Roanoke County Public Schools to qualify for the 2% state funding in 2013-14 without giving an additional 2% raise. The additional 2% raise would have cost the school division another $919,000 in local funds, which would have required more budget cuts.
“While we’re grateful that state funding cuts this year were smaller than in years past, we already are looking to the 2014-15 budget. We are anticipating additional increases in state retirement expenses and potentially more state funding cuts, so we must remain vigilant to control expenses,” said Dr. Lorraine Lange, Superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools.
Submitted by Chuck Lionberger