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Average 3.1% raise proposed for county school employees

The Middlesex County School Board adopted a proposed $16,006,935 school budget for 2017-18 (FY18) on Monday, March 13, that includes a 2% raise, plus a step raise, for teachers and all other employees. The overall 3.1% increase in salaries will cost an additional $171,000.

The proposed school budget is up $654,000 over the current 2016-17 (FY17) budget. The increase will be covered by $527,626 in additional local funds, with the remainder covered by more revenue from the state and other sources.

School superintendent Dr. Peter Gretz said that on December 16, 2016 Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed the state budget, on which the revenue side of the school budget is based.

State Delegate Keith Hodges of Urbanna, who was at Monday’s school board meeting, said the Virginia General Assembly increased state funding for grades K-12 and supported a statewide 2% raise for teachers. The total state revenues for Middlesex schools are projected to be $4,706,701 in FY18, which is up $140,528 from the current year.

State funding is driven by Average Daily Membership (enrollment). The proposed Middlesex school budget projects an enrollment of 1,180 students in FY18, 10 more than the figure used to project FY17 funding, said Dr. Gretz.

FY18 federal school revenue is projected at $750,328 for the general fund, up $26,053 from FY17.

Other expenditures for the schools are the Virginia teacher’s pension fund (VRS) that will require the schools to pay 2% more into the program, which is an increase of $125,615.

Health insurance is going up 11%, a $132,821 increase. Some of the health insurance increase will be passed on to employees. In order to address the rising cost of health insurance, all employee participants will receive some increase in the employer share of the cost of their premiums, which will total an additional $29,000. 

The budget also reflects hiring a middle school math teacher at a cost of $60,000 (salary and benefits), and two paraprofessionals—one for the elementary school and one at the middle school—at a cost of $30,000 each.

The MAP test, used by teachers to access achievement, growth and performance of students, will be expanded to grades 3-6 at a cost of $3,755.

The cost of software licenses for instructional programs and associated classroom technology equipment is up $13,442.

Professional development will be expanded at a cost of $10,000, which will be offset by freezing the division’s tuition reimbursement program for teachers who take classes to remain certified.

Dr. Gretz said the county’s State Composite Index, which is a formula used to determine how much state education aid a locality receives, will remain at .6336 in FY18. 

County supervisors are supporting the proposed school budget and salary increases, and have advertised a budget this week that includes increasing real estate and personal property taxes to help fund these increases.

At an early morning supervisors budget work session last Friday, Hartfield District supervisor Bob LeBoeuf cautioned school officials that if the State Composite Index changes in FY19, resulting in less state funds for the schools, then the Middlesex Public Schools “could be looking at a cut in their budget [in FY19]. Everyone needs to be aware of this.”

At that meeting, LeBoeuf also said local spending on schools has gone up 20% in the last five years, which is “not sustainable” under the current economic climate in Middlesex. “We can’t raise taxes 2 and 3-cents every year to keep up with these increases.”

LeBoeuf also noted that local spending on county government has been increasing at a faster rate than spending on county schools.

posted 03.15.2017

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