Southampton schools asking $13.6M from county

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Southampton County Public School system is budgeting $34,715,401 for Fiscal Year 2018-2019, and of that amount is requesting $13,673,176 from the county, which is $1.45M more than last fiscal year. Supt. Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon made her presentation during the Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday night.

She prefaced her case stating that it was a needs-based budget made “in order to provide a quality education, and that a school system is only as good as its community, and our community is excellent.” Shannon said all county schools are fully accredited, and charted the progress each has made with Standards of Learning tests over a three-year period. Further, she outlined evidence of continuous improvement, such as implementing the computer coding program in all elementary schools. Of note, the county school system received the Governor’s Award for Excellence and Innovation in Education.”

The vision for the county schools, said the superintendent, is “that all students will be successful, productive, lifelong learners in an ever-changing world.” She added that the mission of the school system “through the combined efforts of the staff, students, families and community is to ensure a quality education in a safe environment that will prepare students to be successful learners and productive citizens in an ever-changing society.”

In addition to county monies, revenue is also anticipated through sales taxes ($2.78M;) state funds ($16.49M;) federal money ($1.69M;) and other sources ($60K.)

On the expenditure side, $21.19M is requested for instruction, a $1.84M increase from last year. A 2 percent overall salary increase, teachers would get 2 percent plus step increase, and $1,000 annual increase for custodians and drivers.

Other expenses include transportation, $3.04M; and technology, $776K, the latter of which includes $82,500 to lease 200 laptops for teachers.

Southampton seeks to get one middle school teacher, one high school teacher and three special education teachers. Another guidance counselor is requested; Capron and Nottoway have been sharing one. Six computer lab and two special education paraprofessionals are also sought.

Site improvements and maintenance are needed at all schools, such as new walkie-talkies, speed bumps, and repairs to lighting and waterlines to name a few.

A significant funding impact driving up the budget is health insurance costs. Shannon pointed out that the rate for health insurance has increased to 13 percent — last year it was 8.05 percent — putting the amount needed at $3.08M, a $1.04M increase from FY 2009.

As an example of how rates have progressed since then, she said that premiums that year for single employees was $119, and will be $194 for FY 2019; $496 for dual ($854); and $873 for families ($1,514.)

Shannon reiterated that a quality school system is only as good as their community. And our community is excellent.”

[Editor’s note: This version corrects the superintendent’s name, which was incorrectly listed.]