Southampton school budget includes 2 percent raises

Published 9:54 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton County Public Schools has proposed a $30.9 million budget that includes two percent pay-raises for most employees and the addition of five positions.

The school district is also requesting the county’s help to buy five school buses; at least 46 buses are 15 years and older. One school bus costs about $86,000, Superintendent Dr. Alvera Parrish said during a Monday public hearing on the budget.

The district also will ask the county for an extra $564,797 to balance its 2013-14 spending plan. That would be on top of the county’s current funding of $11 million.

County Administrator Michael Johnson said it’s too early to say whether or not the county can provide the extra funding.

“We’re still looking at revenue projections,” Johnson said.

He expects to have an answer when he unveils the draft budget on April 10.

Johnson does expect the county to come up with some help for new buses.

The General Assembly’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes money to help pay for the optional 2 percent raises for contracted employees, which include teachers, principals, guidance counselors, bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and librarians. Southampton schools would receive $196,745 from the state, but would have to kick in $163,236 to cover the total cost of $359,981.

Parrish noted that for the 2012-13 budget, 45 jobs were cut, including 19 teaching positions.

“The positions cut had an adverse effect on the quality of educational services,” she said.

Parrish requested adding an elementary librarian, and a high school math teacher and Spanish teacher, each of which would cost $51,608 with pay and benefits. She also asked for an administrative assistant for Riverdale Elementary School and middle school teaching assistant at a cost of $54,107 and $15,518, respectively.

The budget also includes:

• Increasing tuition for out-of-county students from $700 to $1,000 a year. The school district also receives $5,000 from the state for each of these students.

• Another 1 percent pay raise to cover employees’ required contribution to the Virginia Retirement System; $22,790 was budgeted.

• A 3.6 percent drop in health insurance for a $206,000 savings.

• $17.6 million for instruction, up by $473,729 over this year.

Parrish said the district continues to struggle with implementing required federal and state programs without adequate funding from either.

She also noted that since 2008-09 budget, the state’s allocation to Southampton schools has dropped from $19.5 million to $15.7 million for the current budget. State funding was 24 percent higher in 2008-09.