The Carroll County School Board adopted a budget during its April 9 meeting that will require eliminating one teaching position at Fancy Gap Elementary School and dropping one insurance plan option for employees. The cuts were made after the Carroll County Board of Supervisors told the school board to cut $158,295 from the budget first presented to the supervisors.
“We looked at other possibilities, none of them good,” said Reginald Gardner, who served on the board’s budget committee. “I hate to reduce benefits, but the change is not a severe one.”
“We sent a tight budget,” said Board Chairman Brian Spencer, who added that with a state-mandated, two percent raise for employees, a one percent required contribution to the Virginia State Retirement System and a 9.4 percent insurance premium increase, “there is no surplus money.”
Instead of offering employees a choice between Key Advantage 500 and Key Advantage Expanded as in the original budget, the board will now offer a choice between Key Advantage 250 and Key Advantage 500.
“It’s still a very good policy, a quality product,” School Board Financial Officer Tammy Quesenberry told the board. “Our co-pay on prescriptions stays the same, and we still have dental and vision. Employees also have the ability to buy up (in coverage). The policy will actually be 15 percent less so that will help.”
Sanford Hendrick made the motion to accept the amended budget and Gardner seconded it.
During discussion, Gardner said he seconded the motion “with regret. Each year I’ve been on the board we’ve had to reduce our budget. That’s not moving in the right direction.”
Spencer added, “In the four years I’ve been on the board, we’ve cut 60 positions. That hurts the young people who were here tonight.” Spencer was referring to the Carroll County High School basketball team and yearbook staff which were honored earlier in the meeting.
Joey Haynes added another problem was school systems “being saddled with unfunded mandates” by the state, which continues to decrease its funding.
“The same factors that are causing our budget to go askew will be there next year,” said Haynes. “It’s not a situation that you can continue to fix by reducing personnel.”
Spencer added, “the state has done nothing but cut back funding to educating our children for 10 years. They’re doing them a disservice. If the state is going to take responsibility for educating our children, they need to fund it and fund it 100 percent, not 60 percent.”
The motion to approve the budget was then approved unanimously.