By NEESEY PAYNE
Pulaski County Public Schools is seeing a change in its fiscal forecast. Amendments proposed by Gov. Bob McDonnell to the 2012-14 biennial budget will not only affect the school system’s current budget, but next year’s, as well.
The Budget Now (2012-13)
At the schools’ last budget workshop, Chris Stafford, director of finance, said there are many factors that will play into the adjustment of the school system’s current fiscal budget, these include:
• An increase in Average Daily Membership;
•Increase in sales tax revenues, which have resulted in decreased state share of funding;
• Updates made to lottery funded accounts and Standards of Quality incentives; and
• A decrease in funding to the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School.
The state’s projected Average Daily Membership, the number of school days within a given period of time a student’s name is listed on a classroom roster, has increased by 38 – taking membership from 4,324 to 4,362. This is a plus for the school system, more students means more money, but there are other adjustments that will need to be accounted for.
In an interview, Stafford said lottery funds are not being allocated like they once were. Where funds would have given the school system additional money on top of state funding that has not been the case for quite some time. “The projected increase in lottery funding is being used to supplant general fund support for education,” said Stafford. “What used to be an additional source is now a replacement.”
For example, funding for textbooks that would have come from state funding to meet the Standards of Quality (the minimum requirements a school division must meet to provide a high-quality public education), is now being replaced with money raised through the Virginia Lottery.
Stafford said state funding for the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School has been reduced by nearly $50,000. This is due to a decrease in the number of students other school divisions are sending to the school.
Taking all adjustments into consideration, the school system is projected to see an estimated $87,532-increase in state funding. Final state revenue payments will be determined by the school system’s final Average Daily Membership on March 31. Stafford said these adjustments will be made beginning with payments in late May and June.
The Budget Next Fiscal Year (2013-14)
McDonnell’s amended budget proposes a compensation supplement – a 2 percent salary increase for all Standards of Quality instructional positions funded through the state. These positions include teachers, principals, assistant principals, guidance counselors, librarians and instructional aides. State funding for the 2 percent increase would only be for those positions that meet Standards of Quality staffing standards set by the state.
“Even though we know they are an important and vital position,” assistant principals at the elementary level would not be included in a 2 percent state-funded salary increase because the position does not meet the Standards of Quality enrollment guidelines for funding set by the state, said Stafford.
He said these instructional positions, along with many others, are funded locally. Stafford said the supplement would not cover support positions such as custodians, cafeteria staff, maintenance workers, nurses and computer technicians although they are a “valued part of the life of the school division.”
The compensation supplement is tied to the Teacher Excellence Act proposed by the governor. If approved by the General Assembly, the act would reform a teacher’s probationary status, performance evaluation, contract and grievance process. A local match would have to be provided based on the school system’s ability to fund the increase.
For Pulaski County Public Schools, the state share of the compensation supplement would be $265,413 with a required local match of $116,586. “The additional state funding will not cover the entire cost of a 2 percent increase for instructional positions, nor any of the cost associated with an increase for support positions,” Stafford said.
With all adjustments taken into consideration, the school system is projected to see a $135,760-increase in state revenue for fiscal year 2014. Stafford said, “The amount is less than the proposed compensation supplement due to lowered Average Daily Membership and resulting basic aid reductions.”