Supervisors hear budget plan

Posted: January 23, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The proposed fiscal year 2015 budget for Frederick County Public Schools involves asking for an additional $8.5 million in funding from the Board of Supervisors.

Superintendent David Sovine on Wednesday outlined his proposed $178.3 million budget for FY2015 — which includes an approximately $9.6 million increase to the FCPS operating fund — during a joint meeting of the Frederick County Board of Supervisors and School Board.

The proposed budget would be an overall increase of roughly $11.9 million over the current year.

The $9.6 million operating fund increase would allow the division to continue its current programs ($1 million), pay for the state-mandated increase in employer payments to the Virginia Retirement System ($2.2 million), fund a projected 5 percent increase in employer health plan premiums ($500,000), implement full-day kindergarten in the fall ($1.7 million) and implement a salary initiative that would provide a one-step movement on the salary scales for all staff ($4.2 million), according to information presented by Sovine.

In addition to the requested additional revenue from the Board of Supervisors, the division expects to receive an additional $1.1 million in state and federal assistance.

Supervisors Chairman Richard Shickle said after the meeting that, while it was a good presentation that didn’t seem extravagant in its funding requests, he doesn’t know how the board could accommodate the additional $8.5 million.

“Right now, [Sovine] wants more money than we got,” Shickle said. “Where we go from there, we’re just going to have to sort out some pieces.... The best hope we have is the state somehow [contributes] more than is projected. That’s not anything to count on, so I don’t know.”

Following the joint meeting, Sovine said that if FCPS does not receive the full $8.5 million in increased funding from the county, the budget could be changed.

“We’ll use our School Board priorities as kind of a guiding compass,” Sovine said. “In terms of if we have to make additional adjustments we would refer back to those priorities that they established this past fall.”

Sovine added that full-day kindergarten would be the school system’s top priority if the proposed budget has to be readjusted.

“That, along with salaries, those are the top priorities, and based on where we end up finally we’ll make appropriate adjustments,” he said. “But we really believe both of those two priorities are very important to our division, to our employees and to our community.”

Attending the meeting in the Frederick County Administration Building were Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard C. Shickle, Vice-Chairman Charles S. DeHaven Jr. and Supervisors Robert A. Hess, Gene E. Fisher, Robert Wells and Gary A. Lofton. Supervisor Christopher E. Collins was absent.

School Board members in attendance were Chairman Stuart Wolk, Vice-Chairman Benjamin Waterman and members Jody S. Wall, Michael A. Lake, Peggy Clark, John Lamanna and Frank E. Wright.

— Contact Matt Armstrong at marmstrong@winchesterstar.com