Small pay increase for teachers dependent on state budget

The Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) budget is one of the first to be presented to the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors. But even the schools budget is dependent on some funding provided  by the Virginia Commonwealth.

“The budget proposal takes advantage of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s offer of $2.9 million as an incentive to raise teacher pay,” said Chesterfield Schools Superintendent Marcus Newsome. “Under the governor’s proposal, Chesterfield County must provide $4.6 million before school system salaries can be increased for all employees. While our proposed budget still lacks $3.8 million in identified funding to balance expenditures, I am hopeful that the General Assembly and/or our county government will step in to provide the money needed to give our employees their first raise since 2009.”

Dr. Newsome said that expenditures for fiscal year 2014 is $533.9 million. The proposed school budget is only about $600,000 more than last year’s budget. The new budget which begins in July 2013 looks much better than the budget presented some years ago when the school system had to eliminate more than 500 full-time positions followed by two years of reduced salaries for remaining employees.

The Commonwealth’s budget remains somewhat challenged leaving Chesterfield school administration unsure of exactly how much the state contribution will be, although Newsome remains optimistic. Furthering the uncertainty, it’s still not clear when the state budget will be complete. Typically, Virginia’s General Assembly finishes their review and approval of the Governor’s budget before the end of the session. But they have been known to extend the session by at least a month leaving school systems in the lurch.

The CCPS Capital Improvement Program dictates when a new school is needed, or affordable, and budgets for renovations and maintenance. Over the next five years, $347.7 million is budgeted. For additions and renovation alone $235.4 million has been dedicated.

According to Governor McDonnell’s State Budget Crisis Task Force, State per-pupil funding decreased steadily by about $500 from 2009 through 2011. Last year the state bumped pupil funding by little over $50 to a total of $4,747 the remainder funded through local sources. “Study after study confirms that the most important controllable factor in K-12 education is the quality of the teacher. Virginia does not pay its teachers particularly well: it ranks 31in average teacher pay [in the nation.]”

According to Newsome’s report, the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) was altered last year requiring workers – rather than employees – to pay additional VRS costs.

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