Part of the news goes directly to how much state funding the school system will get for 2019-2020. System Director of Finance Beth Shupe told the board at its budget workshop meeting that she and staff are looking at the possibility of systemwide enrollment dropping from the 5,500 projected in this budget year to 5,380 next school year.
Except for enrollment stabilizing over the past two school years, Shupe said, projected enrollment is following a 10-year trend of about 100 students lost each budget year.
While 5,500 was the target for the current year, Shupe said even that number has shifted throughout the past seven months of school, dropping overall by 122 students through February. When deciding each locality’s allocation from the state’s budget, Shupe said, state budget officials still look at a division’s average daily membership through March 31 of each school year.
School Superintendent Greg Mullins told the board that all Virginia school divisions are still waiting for Gov. Ralph Northam to sign the state budget bill, but preliminary numbers show that Wise County should see a drop in state basic school aid from $19.6 million this year to $19.12 million next school year.
“We expect the budget to include money for the state’s share of a five percent salary increase for teachers,” Mullins said.
Personnel costs make up 80 percent of the school division’s budget, Mullins said.
Shupe said the school budget will see declines in funding for various federal programs, although final numbers have not become available yet.
Mullins and Shupe pointed to good news concerning employee health insurance, with the current insurer Anthem only raising rates by 1.6 percent next budget year. If the school system absorbed that hike, Shupe said, it would only increase the school budget by $200,000.
The state lottery-per-pupil allocation for Wise County appears to grow from $1.14 million to almost $1.5 million next year, Shupe said. According to a sheet of projected revenue numbers provided to the board, sales tax revenue could rise from $6.14 to $6.29 million in 2019-2020.
Mullins said that an anticipated $12 million statewide budget allocation for school counselors could help the school system hire some new counselors for primary, middle and high schools.
The board will hold another budget workshop Monday, March 25 at 5 p.m. at the school board meeting room on Lake Street in Wise.