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Local News

Scott County School Board approves $33.4 million budget for next year

March 30th, 2013 10:08 pm by Wes Bunch

GATE CITY — The Scott County School Board approved a $33.4 million budget for the 2013-14 school year Thursday night that contains nearly $1 million in cuts to deal with the loss of a one-time allocation of extra local funding.


The adopted budget includes $25.1 million from the Virginia General Assembly, a .6 percent increase from the current year’s allocation.


That additional funding was earmarked by the state for a 2 percent race for school system staff. The raise depends on local matching funds for implementation.


“Everything in terms of the amount of money from the state is essentially the same,” Scott County Schools Superintendent John Ferguson said. “Of course, this year they included additional money to fund the 2 percent raise. So it’s a little misleading when you look at the bottom-line number. If you take that out, you’re more back in line with what we had last year.”


The budget also reflects a drop in federal funding at $1.9 million and calls for a required local effort from the Scott County Board of Supervisors of $5.3 million.


That amount is almost $1 million less than supervisors allocated for the 2012-13 budget. That contribution — which totaled $6.3 million — contained $1.6 million in additional local funding the school system used to cover a change in Virginia Retirement System contributions.


While the request for 2013-14 is lower than last year’s, the amount is still approximately $544,000 more than the $4.7 million the BOS is mandated to budget by the state.


“We’ve worked hard to make cuts and tighten our belt,” School Board Chairman James Kay Jessee said. “They really bailed us out last year with the funds they gave us, and we’re not going to go back this year and ask for that much again. What we’re going to be asking for is considerably less and that’s because we did what they asked and tightened our belt and cut and saved where we could.”


The extra funding, which Ferguson said is in line with amounts allocated in the past, would be used to implement the locality’s portion of the employee salary increase.


Ferguson said the budget contains nearly $1 million in cuts and cost saving measures to mitigate the loss of the extra funding given for 2012-13.


The school system was able to close that gap, Ferguson said, by reducing instruction by $613,924 and cutting $223,000 from the operations and maintenance budget.


“Through attrition we have 13 individuals since the end of last year that we know of who will not be returning next year to the school system,” Ferguson said. “That’s the biggest contributor to our savings.”


Although some were let go through attrition, Ferguson said the school system was able to avoid making layoffs to save money.


In addition to those self-enforced cuts, Ferguson said the school system is also set to lose $432,141 in federal funding.


Approximately $200,000 of that reduction can be attributed to federal sequestration legislation, while the remainder reflects a loss of 21st Century Classroom grant funding.


The 21st Century funding could be restored if the school system is awarded another grant later this year, Ferguson said.


Ferguson said the budget will be presented for final adoption when the Board of Supervisors convenes for its May meeting.

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