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Millions more in local funds needed for Halifax County school budget

SoVaNow.com / January 09, 2014
The Halifax County School Board will seek an additional $3.3 million in local funding for school operations in the new budget year.

That was the consensus of school trustees who gathered for a work session Monday night to begin deliberations on the 2014-15 budget, which goes into effect July 1.

School officials cautioned that there are many unknowns with the budget that will affect the final request for local funds. The decision on local funding will be up to the Board of Supervisors.

“The county has asked for budget requests by Jan. 15,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Merle Herndon, “and while we do not have all the figures yet, this request is the best I can do at this time.”

At the moment, the School Board projects it will need $16,634,259 for the upcoming fiscal year, a sharp increase in the level of funding provided by the county in the current year — $13,377,259.

Last year the School Board asked for $16,630,336 before settling for about $3.3 million less.

The increase is being driven by several factors:

Halifax County is being required by the State of Virginia to shoulder a larger share of local education expenses. The state adjusted the county’s composite index — a measure of localities’ ability to pay for schools — thus raising the required level of local funding by $739,868.

The composite index is based on a complicated formula calculated by the Virginia Department of Taxation. It is based on adjusted gross income, taxable retail sales and the value of a locality’s real property. According to the state, changes in these measurements point to an increased ability by local taxpayers to pay for education.

The School Board also faces higher employee pension and benefit costs. The state has raised the contributions that local school divisions must make to the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) for retiree pensions. Halifax County also will be required to pay more for group life and retiree health care benefits. The additional cost of benefits is expected to be $637,198.

To implement the findings of a school employee compensation study, the School Board will ask for $1,116,381. The money for salary adjustments would be divided between teachers ($783,381) and non-teaching staff ($113,000) and applied to fixed costs such as payroll taxes ($220,000).

The school division’s gross payroll is around $29 million.

Halifax County also is facing a loss of $103,907 due to federal sequestration spending cuts,

The division also may face a steep increase in insurance costs, projected to jump by $659,376, although officials caution the numbers are preliminary.

“I have advised County Administrator Jim Halasz of our figures and sent him the explanation of where we got our figures,” Herndon said earlier this week. “I know the county is struggling with its budget just as we are, and I hope that we will find some ways to lower the figures before we have to finalize the budget. But at this time this is all we have to work with.”

One possible change could come in state funding since the proposed budget is based on Halifax County having an average daily membership (ADM) of 5,085 students. On Dec. 20, the enrollment was 5,212 students, which would mean an increase of $1,082,133 in state funding if that figure holds up.

(The official ADM is based on the schools enrollment on March 31.)

Herndon was quick to point out that the figures are based on outgoing Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget. Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe will also make budget recommendations, with both the House and Senate making their own changes. She said she expects the final state budget to be passed by a House-Senate conference committee in mid February.



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Comments

Have Madame Superintendent and some of the other bloated HCPS administrative salaries offered to take their 10% pay cut yet?

Comments

Virginia Friggin Education Lottery

Comments

Makes sense. We're gonna need that $10 million courthouse renovation so we'll have somewhere to process all the juvenile delinquents resulting from an underfunded school system.

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Underfunded--has been for 50 years!!! Some things never change!!! What are the odds this budget cycle will be any different????? Education will always be short changed in Halifax--at least based on the past!!!!

Comments

AB- that comment wouldn't be near as funny or pertinent except several years back I heard a Danville city cop say he wanted young people to have a police record. What kind of misanthropic self-serving mindset is that? and why is it tolerated among LEO?

Lot of kids don't want to be in school and ruin it for kids who genuinely want education. We're spending the same money on the honors students as the ones who don't want to be there. Politics and federal funding being what they are, the schools keep those kids enrolled so they'll keep getting their funding.

Screwed up mess, is what it is. Top-heavy administration and salaries aren't helping.


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