Schools bracing for additional budget cuts
Thomas Lester, Editor
Carroll County Superintendent Dr. Greg Smith said he was already expecting a $2.3 million shortfall in state funding when comparing 2009 funds to 2010. Last week, word came down that the gap could widen by another $246,592.
With Carrolls Local Composite Index frozen at 0.024, school officials already had a good idea of how much to expect from the state. The index was frozen until 2012 by Governor Timothy Kaine and new Governor Bob McDonnell indicated that he would consider upholding the freeze. But McDonnell overturned the decision on Feb. 8, raising Carrolls composite index to 0.025, which lessened the states contribution to the countys education funds.
The LCI determines state and local education funding responsibility in the budget and is normally updated every two years. With the freeze in place, it would have cost certain Northern Virginia localities $128.3 million, which is why the freeze was overturned.
Now we have an added almost $250,000, Smith said in his report to the Carroll County School Board on Feb. 9.
Smith said the unfreezing of the LCI negatively affected 70 percent of the school districts in Virginia.
Ninety school districts in the Commonwealth are adversely impacted by this change, Smith said. We are going to have to go back to the drawing board in many ways and look for another $250,000.
This is in addition to what we cut last year, right? asked School Board Chairman Robert Utz, to which Smith replied in the affirmative.
With the freeze coming off the books, Fairfax County will gain another $61 million, Loudon County pockets another $34 million and Prince William County will add $22 million to its totals, among the localities that gain from the decision.
I was shocked that the governors office would make a decision that would benefit 30 percent of the school districts in the Commonwealth and not 70 percent, Smith said. To make a decision to adversely affect 70 percent of the divisions in Virginia is unacceptable.
Other districts in the area will also be affected by the decision. Galax stands to lose $59,429; Grayson loses $812,527; Floyd will be down $322,395; Patrick will be down $63,166 and Wythe County will drop $544,678.
We feel fortunate that the cut wasnt as severe as other districts in the Commonwealth, Smith said. In these tight budget times, any cut in our state revenue is very disconcerting.
Later in the meeting, Carroll County Finance Manager Tammy Quesenberry said there were four goals outlined in constructing the 2010-2011 budget.
They are maintaining quality instruction with appropriate class size throughout the system with focus on grades K through 3; the second goal is maintaining salaries, benefits, incentives and positions to ensure a quality school system; No. 3 is support instruction which promotes student achievement; and No. 4 is to provide open lines of communications to keep students, staff and the public well-informed, Quesenberry said.
At the beginning of the meeting, Brenda Collins, President of the Carroll Education Association, said the associations membership knows hard times are ahead, but has faith in the School Board to do whatever it takes to keep the system moving forward.
The CEA would like to thank you for everything youve done, Collins said. I dont think anybody in America envies any school board or board of supervisors member in trying to put a budget together at this time. However, I am extremely confident A) were going to have less, and B) whatever that less is, its going to take us forward. I have not seen you take us in any other direction. I do not expect to go backward and that takes a tremendous effort on your part.
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