PG Superintendent presents ‘needs-based, future-focused’ budget to School Board

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Feb. 22, 2018 | 11:20 a.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – “Needs-based, future-focused.”
Those were the pillars of Prince George Public Schools Superintendent Renee Williams’ proposed budget, which was presented to the Prince George School Board and public-at-large during a special meeting early last week.

The superintendent’s proposed budget nearly mirrors the adopted budget of the current financial year but features some modest adjustments due to declining student population and changes in some revenue sources.

Overall, the school division’s proposed budget has increased by just under one-half of one percent when compared to the current fiscal year, going from $66.4 million in the FY2018 adopted budget to $66.7 million in the superintendent’s proposal. Within that, federal and textbook fund revenues see decreases while state funding is expected to increase by over $350,000 as a result of where the school division is estimating average daily membership or ADM to be during the 2018-2019 school year.

Prince George Public Schools’ ADM has remained below its recent peak of 6,334 established during the 2014-2015 year over the past several school years and that trend is expected to continue into 2018-2019 as Williams’ budget is built of an ADM of 6,150 students, a decline of nearly 150 students over the current year’s budgeted 6,295.

In addition, school division officials are monitoring signals of its military-connected student population declining as Prince George Schools’ data shows a slow drop in the number of military-connected students attending schools in the county. During the 2014-2015 school year, just over 1,900 military-connected students were enrolled in PGCPS. During the 2016-2017 school year, that number dipped down to 1895, with another slide the following year down to 1,756, which affects the amount federal Impact Aid Prince George Schools would receive from Washington, which is provided to school divisions that have experienced increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected students.

In regards to county funding, which makes up a large chunk of the school division’s revenue, no increases were proposed in Williams’ budget, with the amount provided by the county during the current year, just over $16 million being budgeted into her proposed budget.

For expenditures, Williams’ budget saw increased costs in the areas of instruction, the largest portion of the school division’s expenses, and administration and health, mainly due to the alignment of the new salary scales, health insurance costs and the hiring of two new staff members.

When looking at the proposed budget, the school division will be helped by a reduction in contribution rates for the Virginia Retirement System and RHCC to the tune of over $1.2 million.
Much of that savings will go into the implementation of the school system’s new salary grades and steps following an intensive salary study from Evergreen Solutions, which found that the school system had “too many steps in the Instructional Salary Scale, multiple steps were frozen in the first ten steps of the Instructional Salary Scale, the Non-instructional Salary Scale had too many grades, [and the] Instructional and Non-instructional salary scales were not aligned,” among others.

After consulting with Evergreen, the school system decided to reduce the Instructional Salary Scale from 40 to 35 steps, the Non-instructional Salary was reduced from six tables to one, and “scale adjustments were made to repair the inequity in the instruction and non-instruction salary scales.”

As a result, the Instructional Salary Scale realignment resulted in an average pay increase of 2.76 percent with a range of 1.15 to 3.92 while the Non-instructional scale realignment saw an average increase of 4.48 percent in pay with a range of 1.26 to 9.14 percent.

Along with the implementation of the scale adjustments, the budget calls for two new reading interventionists, one for Harrison Elementary and another for J.E.J. Moore Junior High School to help increase overall achievement of students in Language Arts at Harrison and increase opportunities to provide remediation during the school day at J.E.J. Moore.

Beyond personnel-related expenditures, the school division has factored in roughly $30,000 in increases to tuition for the students it sends to the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School, Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond, and new technology-oriented high school CodeRVA, along with $25,000 in transportation-related costs, and $21,000 in capital outlay related to roof repairs.

With the budget now presented, it now rests in the hands of the five-member Prince George School Board, who will sit down for several work sessions beginning Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m. where they will make revisions to the proposal and submit their adopted budget to the Prince George Board of Supervisors for their consideration.

A public hearing on the proposed school board budget is scheduled for February 27 at 6 p.m.

Copyright 2018 by Womack Publishing
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