Retreats were needed investment

Speakers and retreats held by the Patrick County School division were a needed investment for school personnel and students, Schools Superintendent Bill Sroufe said.

He said the additional training opportunities for school personnel led to increased student performance.

Sroufe said the $4,300 was the highest amount the division spent for a guest speaker.  He added that was the low-range of fees for speakers. Some fees quoted to the division were $18,000, he said, adding the division did not hire those speakers.

The division tries to be good stewards of the funds it receives, whether state, local or other, Sroufe said, and noted the school division requested $7,365,000 in local funds for the fiscal 2014-15 budget. The supervisors approved that request, which represented level funding from the previous fiscal year.

In 2015-16, after the division made the initial $8,699,000 local funding request, the county refinanced the debt service, which meant the division needed ($2,096,334) less funds from the locality, he said.

The amount was adjusted and actually decreased to $6,602,666 that year, Sroufe said.

That year, the division also gave a 1.5 percent pay hike, paid for technology upgrades and hired an additional special education teacher, Sroufe said.

The following fiscal year (2016-17), the amount of local funding requested by the school division and approved by the county was $7,115,967, Sroufe said.

The $513,301 increase in local funds was tapped to help pay for a $192,000 bus lease; a $275,625.69 debt service increase and $590,048 for a step, plus 2 percent raise, he said.

In 2017-18, county approved $8,174,818, which represented   $1,058,851 more than the school division’s request $7,928,754 in local funds. Sroufe said $500,000 was used to help pay the increased costs of health insurance for employees.

At $1,700 per person, the employee contribution increased significantly in 2017-18, Sroufe said, and added there was no increase for employees in fiscal 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17.

Local funds in fiscal 2017-18 also were tapped to help pay a 2 percent pay raise; an increased contribution to the Virginia Retirement System ($329,041.19) and debt service of $356,016.16, he said.

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