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Mecklenburg schools seek $3 million boost with new budget / March 12, 2014
The Mecklenburg County School Board held its first public hearing Monday on a $47.8 million budget request for the upcoming fiscal year, but no one signed up to speak.

The new budget, which is due to go into effect July 1, seeks nearly $3 million more than what the school board received from the county last year. In addition, trustees are seeking another $3.4 million in capital funding to repair and improve the existing school facilities.

Of the $3 million increase, $806,000 would go to pay for unfunded state mandates including a 10 percent increase in health insurance, an additional $453,000 payable to the Virginia Retirement System, a $67,000 increase in spending for algebra readiness, and an additional $19,000 required for textbooks. Another $514,000 will be spent on teacher step increases, salary adjustments for instructional aids, auto mechanic teachers, and maintenance workers, and assistant principals and a secondary guidance counselor at each school on a 12-month scale.

$975,000 would be spent on non-personnel items including over $330,000 on technology upgrades, and another $200,000 for increased spending in the maintenance and transportation departments.

The remaining $761,000 would pay for 16 new positions — among them a grant writer, eight teachers, six instructional aides, and an assistant principal.

The $3.4 million sought for capital improvements covers the cost of new covered walkways connecting the gymnasiums to the main school buildings at Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary schools ($120,000), new boilers for both Bluestone High School and Park View Middle School ($60,000), and new bleachers at Park View and Bluestone Middle Schools ($50,000)

Lesser priorities but still part of the budget request, according to Superintendent James Thornton, are:

• $600,000 for new windows in Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $770,000 for new HVAC board units in Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $330,000 for kitchen upgrades and new drains at Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $307,000 for paving at South Hill, Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $129,000 to paint and install new ceiling tiles in the hallways of the older portions of Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $138,000 for new fire alarms, security cameras and master clocks at Chase City, Clarksville and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $15,000 for a multi-activity play center at Chase City and Clarksville Elementary Schools

• $35,000 for tables and chairs at South Hill and La Crosse Elementary Schools

• $5,000 for a baseball backdrop at Bluestone Middle School

• $25,000 for a band truck for Park View High School

• $72,000 for front loader tractors for Park View and Bluestone middle and high schools

• $55,000 for a chiller to replace a broken chiller at South Hill Elementary School

• $70,000 for two lawn mowers and two ¾ ton trucks for the maintenance department

• $440,000 for four new cars and six mini buses for the transportation department

Most of these expenditures, according to Thornton, are needed to make the existing buildings habitable while the Board of Supervisors works with the School Board to determine when or if monies are available to construct new school facilities.

Since there are no plans to replace any of the existing elementary schools in the county, Thornton said another $1.3 million is needed to complete upgrades to the four elementary schools, making them useful and habitable for years to come.

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