Clarke school funding request may take a hit

Posted: February 7, 2013

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — The request from the Clarke County School Board for more than $1 million in additional local funding over last year’s amount will likely not be fully granted.

 

At a School Board Finance Committee meeting Wednesday that also involved Board of Supervisors Chairman Michael Hobert and member John Staelin, the panel outlined a $21.4 million operating plan for fiscal year 2014.

 

 

The total proposed budget expenditures are $27 million, of which $16.2 million is projected to come from local funding — a $1.2 million increase over the amount of local funds provided in the current budget.

 

“The bottom line is it’s probably more than we can be able to raise without a tax increase,” Hobert said after the meeting. “And the Board of Supervisors would like to do everything in their power to avoid raising taxes.”

 

How much the county can pay will not be known until additional meetings are held.

 

“It’s too early to tell for that,” Hobert said.

 

The proposed budget calls for a 3 percent raise for all staff, the hiring of eight additional full-time equivalent staff positions, and $273,510 for textbooks — up from about $51,000 designated for that purpose this fiscal year.

 

“We have textbooks with countries that don’t even exist anymore,” Superintendent Mike Murphy said in pointing out the importance of the funding.

 

The FY14 budget is based on an average daily enrollment of 2,040 students. Currently, that number is about 2,050.

 

On average, 10 fewer students means $35,000 less in state revenue.

 

Hobert expressed concern over the division’s flat enrollment and its plan to hire additional staff, including a high school science teacher, a health-science teacher, a divisionwide STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, math and health) coordinator, a divisionwide math specialist, and a divisionwide Response to Intervention teacher.

 

In response, Assistant Superintendent Rick Catlett said that a majority of the proposed new hires are not classroom teachers, are not hired based on student enrollment and are targeted toward specific programs.

 

The funding for the health sciences teacher and the STEM-H coordinator is also being split between the division and other entities.

 

After the meeting, Hobert said he was pleased with the session and the board.

 

“I really like this School Board now,” he said. “They’re doing a great job and looking at things carefully. I really appreciate their work.”

 

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com