By Kim Walter
WOODSTOCK - The Shenandoah County School Board on Monday approved its fiscal 2013-2014 budget, which includes a $1.2 million increase in requested funds from the Board of Supervisors.
All board members except for Kathryn Holsinger, who was not present at the meeting, voted to approve the $56,760,199 budget.
The budget includes a 2 percent across the board salary increase for school employees - an initiative brought on by the General Assembly's approved budget. However, as Superintendent B. Keith Rowland noted, the raise will require many localities in the state to up funding levels.
In Shenandoah County, a 2 percent increase for all employees will cost an additional $815,055. The state revenue compensation for that initiative comes to $371,366, which means $446,689 will need to come from local revenue.
Another chunk of the division's increase in expenditures is due to the 10 percent increase in health insurance. In order for the school system to cover 100 percent of employee-only health insurance, an additional $414,420 is needed.
The $1.8 million increase in expenditures from last year's budget also includes additional funds for textbooks, a new certified nursing assistant program, professional development, providing a reading specialist, and the regional increase of special education tuition.
Shenandoah County schools will see $29,656.938 in state funds for the 2013-2014 budget. While it is a slight increase over last year's state revenue, that increase is mostly due to the salary initiative. The funding level is still almost $1.5 million less than what was provided in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
In the division receives the requested $23,482,318 from the county, it will make up 42 percent of the schools' budget - a 1 percent increase from last year.
Rowland will go to the county's Board of Supervisors' 9 a.m. meeting today to present the school board's approved budget. He said he's happy to pass another step in the budget process, but won't be satisfied until all is said and done.
"Just because we've approved this number doesn't mean it will be the final one," he said after the meeting.
Rowland said he doesn't believe the request for an additional $1.2 million in local funding is "frivolous," since a majority of it is for the salary increase.
"Only $400,000 of it is actually going toward new student initiatives," he said. "I don't think we're asking for anything we don't need. We had to put certain programs and things in the budget to allow us to move forward as a school division."
Rowland noted that if the county chooses not to match the funding for the salary increase, then the division would lose that portion of the state funding as well.
"It was quite a little trick they pulled," he said of the approved budget legislation. "But these are things we have to cover."
The Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the county's overall budget at 7 p.m. April 16 at Peter Muhlenburg Middle School.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org