Wednesday, July 24, 2024

York County School Board Approves Budget with Potential Shortfall

The York County School Board unanimously approved the next fiscal year's operating budget Monday. (Colin Riddle/WYDaily)
The York County School Board unanimously approved the next fiscal year’s operating budget Monday. (Colin Riddle/WYDaily)

Next fiscal year’s budget for the York County School Division will make its way to the Board of Supervisors with step increases for all employees.

The School Board unanimously approved the $132 million operating budget Monday with a potential shortfall and the Capital Improvements Program in mind.

The requested budget is about a 2 percent increase to last year’s $129 million budget and includes about $2.4 million in additional revenue from the state.

It also requests about $1 million more from the county than last year, despite the county’s proposed budget including about $365,000 more for schools – a gap the school division will need to close if the county’s Board of Supervisors does not increase the contribution before the budget’s adoption in May.

Superintendent Victor Shandor’s budget originally called for an additional $1.2 million from the county, however, more revenue from the state than originally budgeted allowed the school division to reduce the request.

Shandor had earmarked the additional revenue for mandated services and about $126,000 for textbooks and materials during a work session last week.

School board member Cindy Kirschke recommended at the work session, with the board’s consensus, the school division consider using some of the additional funds to reduce their request to the county as a show of good faith in working with the Board of Supervisors to meet the county’s budget, which is proposed without any tax increases.

Shandor recommended removing the $126,000 for textbooks and materials to do so.

“I think as things progress along we should have another meeting to bring some things to the table as we know we will most likely have to come to our table to prioritize some difficult decisions to close the gap,” school board member Mark Medford said.

Medford continued to push the importance of the Capital Improvements Program as well, which has been discussed in detail during the budget process this year and is likely to see a number of reductions as proposed by County Administrator Neil Morgan and staff.

Morgan previously said the county is making reductions to the six-year capital plan in order to use more realistic figures with the county’s borrowing power based on the operating budget.

“This is the first year we’ve seen that out front as much as it’s been, and I think we need the community to realize that document is in some cases just as critical, if not more than, the operating budget that we’re going to have to go back and revisit,” Medford said.

Kirschke added it would be a good idea to see if the Board of Supervisors had any questions or additional information prior to another joint meeting in order to better discuss some of the challenges facing the school division regarding the budget and capital projects.

A surplus from Federal Impact Aid could be used to help capital projects in the next few years. The school division is expecting about $4.3 million in back payments from Federal Impact Aid at the end of the current fiscal year.

Those funds will be placed in a reserve account used as a revenue stabilization fund for the schools.

The school division has requested – and the county has proposed – using $900,000 from that fund to supplement the school’s operating budget to help offset a $950,000 reduction to Impact Aid funds next year.

About $2.6 million in additional expenses in the school division’s proposed budget are geared toward step increases in compensation for school division employees, including step raises for all eligible staff by about 2 percent on average and restoring one step for staff who have lost four steps.

The budget also includes more compensation for substitute teachers, cafeteria managers and summer maintenance and custodial workers among others.

A 5-percent increase in health insurance costs requires about $500,000 from the school to pay the employer portion, and an increase of about $748,000 for mandated services is projected, including a rate increase to the Virginia Retirement System, additional special education teachers and additional Limited English Proficiency teachers among others.

The school division proposed about $950,000 in reductions from the the current budget, including an anticipated $600,000 in attrition from retiring employees.

The Board of Supervisors will have a public hearing on the county’s proposed budget April 21, following work sessions throughout April. Scheduled adoption for the budget is May 3.

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