By Nancy Lindsey
The Patrick County School Board’s budget committee agreed Jan. 26, on the recommendation of Division Superintendent Dr. William Sroufe, to trim the list of requested budget increases from $3,876,969 to $2,104,567.
The proposed 2016-2016 school budget is still being developed and is dependent on funds from the state and locality, Sroufe said.
A snapshot of the budget in progress shows that the school board plans to ask county government for an increase in local funds of $335,000.
All the items were requested by school leaders (principals and administrators) and were selected because they have the biggest impact on teachers and students, Sroufe said.
The new list is not set in priority order, but includes a 2% salary increase plus a step for all school employees (excluding bus drivers), at a cost of $590,000. Bus drivers would receive a $10 per day increase, from about $60 to $70, if the current budget is approved.
The superintendent’s recommendations also include the following additional personnel: three elementary librarians or guidance counselors, at a cost of $150,000; another English teacher, career and technical education (CTE) teacher, and foreign language teacher at Patrick County High School, at a total cost of $150,000; a CTE administrative assistant, at a cost of $32,000; and two maintenance personnel, at a cost of $60,000.
The budget committee trimmed the requested increase in the technology category from $1,068,140 to $500,000. Most of the money would be spent on replacing outdated SmartBoards and student laptops for classrooms, Sroufe said.
The technology funds would not meet all the needs but would put a plan in action to move forward, he said.
The same is true of the transportation category, where it would cost about $2 million to replace 13 high-mileage, high-maintenance school buses, Sroufe said. The committee agreed with his recommendation to lease the buses at a cost of $190,000.
Other increased funds sought would pay for maintenance materials, $58,000; locker replacement, $30,000; paving projects, $45,000; instructional allocations (including for libraries), $150,000; and an increase in pay for substitute employees, $20,000.
Savings from teacher retirements are estimated at $119,567, making a total of $2,104,567 in increased funds to be requested.
The school board budget committee also agreed to accept the expansion of students requested by K12 Inc. for the virtual school operated through Patrick County, but to raise the total number of students accepted in the program from about 400 currently to 650, which would generate $450,000 in additional funds for the school system, Sroufe said. K12 Inc. had asked Patrick County to take 400 new virtual students.
Sroufe said the current projected additional revenue from the budget presented by Gov. Terry McAuliffe is $1,200,000, from a budget which has not yet been approved by the General Assembly.
Sroufe said McAuliffe is also pushing an incentive program that would add one teacher per school district throughout the state, at no cost to the locality.
Members of the budget committee, in addition to Sroufe, are Blue Ridge District school board member and chairman, Ronnie Terry; Dan River District member and vice chairman, Kandy Marshall; Blue Ridge Elementary School Principal Sandra Clement; Dean Gilbert, assistant superintendent; and Katina Hylton, finance officer.