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Wise County schools approves budget, raises, stipend

Stephen Igo • Apr 25, 2018 at 5:30 PM

WISE — The Wise County School Board on Tuesday approved a budget for next fiscal year that includes a teacher pay scale adjustment, a 4 percent support staff pay raise and a one-time $1,000 stipend for teachers at 34 years or more on the scale.

For the first time in several years, the board is hopeful about getting more state money and will make the case to the Board of Supervisors for level funding in order to address needs that have languished during those dire budget years.

The variables remain with the Virginia General Assembly that yet wrangles over a state budget and with the Board of Supervisors. In any case, the budget approved on Tuesday will be presented to the supervisors, probably early next month. The spending plan anticipates an increase of more than $2.1 million in state funds, a figure based on the governor’s budget proposal.

The local funding request will be the same as the current year at just over $12 million.

The state increase includes a jump of more than $1.7 million in state basic aid, or nearly $19.6 million for next fiscal year compared to nearly $17.9 million in the current fiscal year. Fiscal years end on June 30. Total state funding increases would top $2.1 million for Wise County Public Schools, if the General Assembly concurs.

Total state funds anticipated for next fiscal year for WCPS are just under $33 million. Federal funding is anticipated at over $5.7 million, an increase of $264,489 over the current fiscal year, and the school division anticipates a sales tax share increase for next fiscal year at better than $226,000.

The total operational expenditures for instruction are projected at $22.3 million, a $1,048,300 increase over the current fiscal year reflecting the teacher salary scale adjustments. Expenditures include $239,425, reflecting a 3 percent health insurance increase in $1,000 deductible Anthem health plans the board would absorb. Employees who opt for lower deductible health plans would have to pay the increase themselves.

The total instructional budget is more than $41.2 million. Administration expenditures for next fiscal year will be a nominal $16,336 increase, or $878,300 compared to the current year’s $861,964.

Essentially, the teacher scale reflects the 4 percent overall employee pay raise, although some teachers will get a bit more or a bit less, depending on the scale adjustments that have been frozen for nearly a decade.

The stipend for teachers with 34 years or more experience bore the focus of much of Tuesday’s discussions. In the scale fix, teachers at the top of the pay scale received next to nothing in the adjustments. Board member John Graham said he could not vote for a budget that snubbed some of the school division’s most experienced teachers, and other members agreed.

The board settled on a one-time $1,000 bonus for those teachers, preferring the term “stipend” when settling on the budget language. The budget then cruised with unanimous approvals for all elements beginning with the stipend, the scale adjustments and the 4 percent support staff raise.

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