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Proposed school budget asks for $5.1 million more from Fauquier taxpayers

Tuesday, Jan. 28 | By hdellinger
The Fauquier County Public Schools proposed budget for the coming year would ask for $5.1 million more from local taxpayers - but would revive some of the middle school sports programs cut in 2012.

The school division's proposed Fiscal Year 2015 budget is $132,627,153, up from last year's $127 million budget. Of that, $83,542,258 would come from local funds.

According to Dr. David Jeck, superintendent of schools, the funding increase is largely necessary because of the state’s requirement to increase benefits for employees. The cost to increase benefits will be $2.7 million. About $1 million will be taken from the school division’s savings, leaving a remaining $1.7 million to account for.

“In order for us to do tomorrow what we're doing today, it will cost 1.7 million,” said Jeck.

The largest increase in benefit funding comes from a required 2.84 percent increase that will total an additional $1.9 million from the school system into the Virginia Retirement System.

State funding is projected to decrease by .01 percent, due to changes in the county’s composite index. The Governor’s proposed budget will change Fauquier’s composite index from 0.5377 to 0.5584, decreasing the state’s portion of the per pupil funding.

Jeck proposed increasing teacher salaries by an average of 2.2 percent and minimum of 1.5 percent for every teacher.

“We had about 100 teachers leave our school division last year, that’s about 10 percent,” said Jeck.

The budget calls for a 4 percent increase in pay for classified staff, like bus drivers and school nutrition workers, over a two-year period. Fauquier County has been hard-pressed to keep these employees, who tend to migrate to points east for better-paying jobs.

There is also a proposed 2.1 percent average pay increase for ancillary employees and a two percent increase for administrative salaries.

The budget proposes allocating $100,000 towards reinstating a supervisor for the Advanced Gifted and Talented Program, which was cut in Fiscal Year 2013 due to revenue shortfalls.

There is a 3.5 percent proposed increase in funding toward the comprehensive maintenance plan and the capital improvement plan. Funding for both of these programs has not increased in over five years.

$900,000 is proposed towards "promoting 21st-century teaching and learning." Part of the funding would go towards providing an additional five instructional technology resource teachers (ITRT) in order to have one ITRT at each elementary school. Those additional teachers would allow the elimination of instruction technology lab assistant positions, since a full time staff member would take over the duties that the assistants cover.

Jeck said that this additional staffing is necessary to support the technology that the schools have acquired.

“Schools in Virginia add technology, but we haven’t provided the support to take care of issue with our machines,” said Jeck.

The proposed funding would also fill the request for two half-time guidance counselors, one and a half English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers and one ESL instructional assistant.

Two and a half teachers were also requested at the High School level. Kettle Run High School specifically has expressed needs to expand its teaching staff.

At the middle school level two additional teachers have been requested in order to keep up with the student growth and to sufficiently staff the new class programming.

The Governer’s proposed budget will increase the per pupil local match amount from $89.73 to $96.22, creating the need for more direct funding from the school system. Because of this, $161, 857 is required from local funding towards the purchase of new textbooks and workbooks.

$100,000 is proposed to reinstate six middle school sports that were previously cut; boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, boys baseball and girls softball.

$300,000 is proposed toward transportation in order to hire a second bus dispatcher to ensure safe operation. Two additional school buses are requested to increase the replacement plan from four buses to six annually.

$10,000 is proposed towards maintain additional safety training for staff that was held this year with one-time funding.

There was a proposed $0.05 increase in school breakfast and lunch prices, which is necessary to meet the requirements of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. The Food and Nutrition Fund is primarily supported by food sales and sate and federal funding.

This proposed budget must first be approved by the school board. The budget that the board approves will go onto the Board of Supervisors.

The County Administrator requested that the school division work towards adopting a two-year budget, as opposed to the usual one-year budget. Because of this request, Jeck has created a Fiscal Year 2016 plan that builds off of the budget goals and considerations.

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