Spotsylvania County teachers will get a 4 percent raise next year and administrators will get 3 percent, instead of the 5 percent across-the-board raise approved earlier this year by the School Board.

The Board on Monday night adopted a $264.2 million operating budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. It includes $131.2 million in local funding that was approved last week by the Board of Supervisors.

This is an increase of $3 million in local funding over last year, but is less than the $12.3 million requested by the school division.

“We were hopeful that the [funding] gap would have been closed, but it was not,” Chief Financial Officer LaShahn Gaines said Monday. “So we had to put our heads together and identify $10 million in cuts.”

Reducing the raises for teachers and administrators resulted in about $2.2 million in savings. Gaines said this would be the equivalent of eliminating 27 existing positions.

The adopted budget also reduces the increase in academic and athletic stipends from 5 percent to 4 percent and cuts in half the proposed $10-a-day increase in substitute pay.

Custodians will still get an hourly rate increase—from $10 to $11.50 an hour—that staff consider to be “critical,” but it will be funded from within the maintenance department.

The adopted budget also still includes $552,087 to implement the second year of recommendations from a compensation study conducted for non-teaching positions, including paraeducators, bus drivers, maintenance and food service staff.

The “lion’s share of where the gap was closed,” Gaines said, came by eliminating 97 of the proposed 149 new teaching and support positions. Instead of 18 new special-education positions, the budget includes nine.

“We’ve had over 100 students with special needs coming into this division, so that is truly the bare minimum number of teachers to keep us afloat,” said Carol Flenard, assistant superintendent for instruction.

The adopted budget reduces the number of proposed new general education teachers from 24 to 10.

It also eliminates seven new middle school safety officers—which would have supported the school resource officers stationed at each school—as well as 20 new elementary school paraeducators and a new supervisory level position overseeing student discipline.

The division initially requested 14 new school social workers, with the goal of placing one at each school, but revised this number to seven in the adopted budget.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly passed legislation aiming to reduce the ratios of students to school counselors. Spotsylvania proposed hiring 14 new school counselors to begin meeting these new requirements, but reduced this amount to nine in the adopted budget.

The adopted budget still includes $53,825 to be divided among the five county high schools for band transportation expenses and $25,000 for updating band uniforms.

Board members voted unanimously to adopt the revised budget, but said they are disappointed not to receive the $12 million more requested to fully fund the budget.

“I’ve cried over it,” said Chancellor District representative Dawn Shelley. “Our kids are the reason we had the prior budget. I’m extremely disappointed in our supervisors. No one was asking for a tax increase. All we say is, ‘These are our needs, the needs of our students.’ ”

“Never once have you heard me say we need a tax increase,” she continued. “How our supervisors fund our budget is up to them. That’s not our job. Our job is to make a budget for our kids.”

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Adele Uphaus–Conner: 540/735-1973 auphaus@freelancestar.com @flsadele

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