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Revised budget gives schools half a loaf

Tuesday, Apr. 15 | By Hannah Dellinger
The Fauquier County School Board will have to make do with about half of the additional local funding that the board requested from the Fauquier Board of Supervisors.

Supt. Dr. David Jeck originally proposed a budget with $5.1 million in new local dollars in order to make mandatory payments into the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) and to close the pay gap for teachers and staff in the three to 13 year experience range. At Monday night’s School Board meeting Jeck proposed his revised budget that includes the $2.4 million increase in county funding that the BOS has appropriated. The new proposed budget for fiscal year 2015 totals $129,883,603 in expenditures.

“We got 47 percent, or roughly half of what we requested from the locality,” said Jeck. “We’re going to be able to make some significant progress, and I’m really excited about that. Not as much as we wanted, but we’re excited about the fact that we made some progress.”

County Administrator Paul McCulla originally recommended allocating about $300,000 in extra tax payer money with the $1.7 million that the school division must pay into the VRS fund. The BOS voted to give an additional $420,000 on top of McCulla’s proposed funding, with the understanding that the money go towards helping mid-career teachers make more money.

The salary increase is right in line with what the school board has been aiming to achieve and with the concerns that community members voiced at the BOS budget public hearing.

“What we as a school board have been focused on addressing since the beginning is compensation and staffing,” said Jeck. “Those are the two big issues that we need to address and identify as goals for next year’s budget.”

Jeck laid out the compensation plan, which is designed to slowly but surely address gaps in pay for different experience levels.

Teachers
In FY 2015: An additional $420,000 will go towards teacher pay, adjustments will be made in the three- to 13-year experience range and improve starting pay.
In FY 2016: Average of a 2.2 percent and minimum 1.5 percent increase.

Ancillary positions
In FY 2015: An additional $50,000 will go towards pay, ancillary positions such as behavioral specialists, physical therapists, psychologist and other similar jobs will see scale adjustments in pay, some decompression, evaluation of employee groups and improved starting pay.
In FY 2016: Transition some to the teacher pay scale with stipends with an average two percent and minimum 1.5 percent raises.

Administration

In FY 2015: pay scale evaluations and a $500 increase in yearly salary for every administrator.
In FY 2016: starting pay will be improved and there will be a two percent increase in pay.

Classified employees
In FY 2015: Unified pay scale and one percent pay increase.
IN FY 2016: Market evaluations begin, career ladders added and phased in and two percent pay increase.

Supplemental or stipend pay
In FY 2015: Some additions to stipends for special projects that staff take on like coordinating the science fair, coaching sports and coordinating test-taking.
In FY 2016: Comprehensive update.

Miscellaneous
In FY 2015: update pay, evaluate sub rates and set substitute hours threshold.
In FY 2016: Improve substitute pay rates.

The proposed budget allocates $500,000 towards additional staffing including two high school teachers, two middle school teachers, an ESL teacher, a guidance counselor, five advanced programs and fine arts supervisors, one school bus dispatcher and a computer technician.

Jeck said that there will not be an increase in healthcare costs for division employees. He had originally projected a five percent increase in out of pocket healthcare payments, but was able to find some wiggle room in the budget so that the school system will pay the increase for the employees.

“This means that employee’s won't see a smaller pay check due to the increasing cost of health insurance,” said FCPS Executive Director of Budget and Planning, Marcy Cotov.

There also will be a new consumer driven healthcare plan (Health Savings Plan or HSA) option available to employees.

The new budget will create a new bi-weekly pay system with a one-week lag for all new teachers. Returning teachers and administrators will be able to opt-out and stay with the current monthly pay system if they wish to do so.

Jeck reminded the board that even though the BOS has its final budget, the state still has not settled on its budget, which will inevitably affect both the school and county budgets.

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