York County School Board Pays for Priorities While Cutting 2016 Budget

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The York County School Board adopted a budget for fiscal year 2016 at its meeting Monday night. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)
The York County School Board adopted a budget for fiscal year 2016 at its meeting Monday night. (Ian Brickey/WYDaily)

Although York County did not fully fund its request for next year, the York County School Division will still be able to cover its budget priorities.

The York County School Board adopted a $129.3 million budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins July 1, at a special meeting Monday night.

The fiscal year 2016 total is nearly $5 million more than the division’s budget for the previous year, but includes a smaller-than-requested contribution from the county.

The School Board had originally approved a $129.9 million budget proposal for next year, including a request for about $1 million more than the county’s previous contribution of $51.9 million.

Last week, the Board of Supervisors adopted a $133.4 million budget for fiscal year 2016, providing $51.3 million for the schools — a $361,000 increase over last year’s contribution.

York County is the second-largest funding source for YCSD, with a projected total contribution of more than $52 million, including funding for operations, grounds and maintenance, for fiscal year 2016. The state of Virginia is the largest funding source, providing about $61.1 million for the schools.

York County Administrator Mark Carter said the additional county funds would be used to support Superintendent Victor Shandor’s budget priority of increasing employee compensation.

Shandor originally called for more than $2.4 million for salary increases for division employees, including a step increase for all eligible employees, and an additional step increase for employees whose salaries have been frozen at the same step since 2010.

The county budget left a $671,848 shortfall in the school division’s budget, forcing administrators to find alternative means of funding Shandor’s two other budget priorities: transportation and technology upgrades.

YCSD Chief Financial Officer Dennis Jarrett said the funding for transportation and technology would come from end-of-year rollover funds. Because school divisions in Virginia are not allowed to carry over funding balances at the end of the school year, any remaining money in the division’s budget reverts to the county.

Jarrett said YCSD typically had $300,000 to $500,000 roll over at the end of the school year.

For at least the last 15 years, Jarrett said the Board of Supervisors had re-appropriated any end-of-year dollars to the schools to use the next year for technology upgrades. Jarrett said the supervisors had agreed to do so again this year, and would allow roll over funds to be used for transportation, as well as technology.

Jarrett said the school division would search for efficiencies in the current budget and would reduce the number of outstanding purchase orders to make up the $671,000 shortfall.

Administrators were confident the division would meet that mark, allowing the division to purchase seven new school buses and complete an $800,000 technology refresh.

School Board Chairman Mark Medford said the board was satisfied with the budget process.

“We have a plan, [the supervisors] have a plan, they know what our plan is, and we just move forward from here,” Medford said.

Medford said this year’s budget discussions were an improvement over previous discussions. Last year, disagreements between the supervisors and the school board left a $2 million shortfall and delayed the passage of a school budget until July.

“It hasn’t gone more quickly, but it’s been smoother,” Medford said. “One thing we wanted to do was make sure they understand where we are, so we were very articulate in identifying our major priorities.”

Medford also said the two boards had come together on common goals, including staff compensation.

“It was easier to move forward knowing that was a common goal,” he said. “We get more done working together than working against each other.”

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