The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Proposal includes request for $2.5 million in additional county funding|
Dr. Mark Church
Friday, March 8, 2013
By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer
The Franklin County School Board has proposed an $80.4 million budget for the 2013-14 school year.
The budget proposal was presented during a public hearing Tuesday night at Benjamin Franklin Middle School.
Next year's budget proposal represents an increase of $1.4 million (1.8 percent) from the current school budget.
"This budget proposal is the bare minimum needed to keep the school system running," said Dr. Mark Church, school superintendent. "It is a stabilization budget and does not really address our true needs."
The proposed school budget includes a request for an additional $2.5 million in county funds.
That figure includes a 3.5-percent pay raise for teachers and staff, which adds up to $1.6 million.
"We have the lowest starting salary in the area," said Church. "We're losing our staff. They love their community, their school system and their kids, but we can only count on that for so long. It (the 3.5 percent pay increase) will not bring us up to professional ratings, but it will stop the bleeding."
"We are the fourth best school division in the commonwealth," he added. "We have outstanding schools, teachers and students. Our teachers do a very good job educating our young people."
During the public hearing, several Franklin County teachers spoke, including Heather Owen.
"As educators, we've taken on this job knowing we aren't going to make millions, and we've taken this freeze (in pay) in stride," she said. "But there comes a time when we need to provide for ourselves and our families."
"Each year, I become more experienced in my skill," Owen added. "The economy is improving and other counties are unfreezing their (salary) scale. One really has to examine why she should stay (in Franklin County schools) when she can drive down the road and receive thousands (of dollars) more."
Also included in request for more county funds is the $1.4 million in carryover funds that the school board used to preserve about 18 jobs and offset fuel cost increases in the current year's budget.
Other increases in the proposed school budget include $149,289 for increased retirement funding; $157,902 for additional staffing; and $262,500 in hikes in group health insurance premiums, according to Lee Cheatham, the schools' finance director.
The proposed school budget also includes several reductions in expenditures, including $103,000 in debt service and $18,732 by minimizing the Early Reading Intervention Program to state requirements, Cheatham said. An additional savings of $184,475 would come by eliminating eight more bus routes.
Overall, the proposed school budget would be funded with $37,166,481 in state funds; $7,652,517 in federal funds; 33,038,928 in county funds; and $2,529,144 in other funds.
The proposed revenues include a $525,567 increase in state funds, Church said. Over the past four years, the school division has seen a 20.9-percent reduction in state funds.
"In order to maintain and stabilize this lean and slimmed-down school system, it really is necessary for us to request additional local funding," Church said. "The community believes in our school system. This is a very difficult decision, and I appreciate everyone's effort to make it work."