The Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) has a new twist in its budget since the Commonwealth finished its budget on March 1. While the CCPS budget total remains the same at $533.9 million, there are still challenges. David Myers, Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, explained to the Board of Supervisors where school division revenue will come from in the coming fiscal year. Chesterfield County provides 44 percent of the schools budget, the state provides 41 percent and state sales tax provides 11 percent while the remaining 4 percent is made up of Federal/State/Local, other and prior year unspent revenue.
A 1 percent raise in teacher salaries and a 1 percent contribution the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) is still in the budget, but the Commonwealth requirement of a 4 percent VRS contribution and a 4 percent salary increase, the net increase will be 2 percent Jan. 1, 2014. Myer said the school division needs to keep in mind that it has to remember the 2 percent salary increase will be in budgets in the future.
“We certainly hope that the Governor will continue to look for funding for public education,” Myer said. “But we hope that you will help or continue to help close this $3.8 million revenue shortfall that we have in our budget.”
In addition to the mandated VRS payment increase, the schools division also has to deal with the Affordable Health Care act and how it will affect part-time employees. Myer said there are still thingS ahead, like sequestration, that will have to be dealt with.
Myer said the CCPS has been working with Mr. Stegmaier [County Administrator] and it looks like the closing the shortfall could be something on the horizon for the school division.
Addressing the expense side of the CCPS budget, Dorothy Jaeckle, Chairman of Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors, asked why does the school division put money into students who look like they are not interested in attending school and create an absentee problem.
“What electives have we cut since ’07, ’08 and what are the electives that we have really missed and what are the consequences of that?” Ms. Jaeckle asked. “When I was looking through some of the proposals there was a request to have a full-time person to help with students that had a lot of absences, to take online classes so they could graduate.”
“It just sort of struck me as we’re putting all this money into kids who aren’t attending school when we are taking electives from students who are really interested in education and want to go to school and I think these are some of the things that would be great to look at. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the graduation requirement you all are facing and doing this online is to help remedy that,” Jaeckle said.
“I met with a major employer last week and I asked what is the greatest cause for turnover, and they said, ‘attendance,’ and I say this isn’t really good and I don’t think we should be saying you don’t have to attend [classes], we’ll make sure that you graduate and I think the School Board liaison should be working on that.”
Dan Gecker said that he looked at the budget presentation as good news. “We have survived every year of the last five years of downturn.”