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Orange School Board sets budget for coming fiscal year
Date published: 6/7/2012
Despite cuts of nearly 20 percent in federal funding, the Orange County school system will spend almost 7 percent more in the coming fiscal year.
The School Board unanimously adopted Tuesday a fiscal 2012-13 budget totaling $49.5 million. The spending plan equates to a 6.6 percent increase in expenditures over the current year.
Federal funds will fall by more than $1 million below the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. But state funding is increasing by $2.85 million, and local funding will rise by more than $1 million.
The board agreed to use $203,953 from its reserves to balance the budget.
Fixed-cost increases to ensure basic operations this year totaled $2.98 million. Two-thirds of that was needed to fund increases in the Virginia Retirement System, group life insurance and retiree healthcare credit contributions.
Four new elementary teaching positions--two kindergarten and one second-grade teacher at Orange Elementary School and one third-grade teacher at Lightfoot Elementary--were required as part of the K-3 class size reduction program, and will cost $229,306.
Three instructional technology resource teachers, costing $191,779, were needed to meet a Virginia Board of Education Standards of Quality requirement.
Additional increases to fill the highest priority of unmet basic needs total $1.51 million. The major portion will go toward an adjustment to employee pay scales needed to align years of prior experience with step numbers on the pay scale, and to adjust the step increments for teachers.
"Because the pay scale had been frozen for four years, we had people with three years of experience getting paid at the same rate as a new teacher," explained Director of Finance Matt Benefield. "Someone with 11 years was getting paid at the eighth step on the pay scale, when they should have been up at step 11."
Also, he said, the pay raises between steps varied somewhat irrationally.
"Someone could benefit $2,000 and someone else would only get $38," Benefield said.
The new pay scale will attempt to smooth out those irregularities, but the task won't be accomplished immediately.
"In the first year, it is going to cause some variation to fix that," Benefield said, "but once we get it going, maybe in two or three years, a step will mean $500 for everybody, instead of being so varied."