By Ryan Cornell
WOODSTOCK -- The Shenandoah County School Board approved a 2015 fiscal year budget that pares down some of its expenditures and requests for county funding.
The budget adjusts teacher salaries to the median salaries in competing school divisions and includes a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for all employees of the school division. A 5.4 percent raise was originally proposed for all non-teaching staff.
The new teacher salaries, including the raise, would be $40,800 for starting teachers; $41,613 for teachers who have five years of experience; $44,269 for teachers who have 10 years of experience.
The School Board also approved renewing The Local Choice as its health insurance provider at the meeting on Wednesday evening.
According to Division Superintendent Jeremy Raley, the reduced raise for non-teaching staff saves $484,239. He said the board's decision to renew its health insurance provider saves $297,960 from the original budget.
The approved budget, which moves to the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors for consideration before it is finalized, totals about $61 million and asks for $26.3 million from the county, a trimming of $782,199 from the budget proposed last month. The total budget is $4.7 million more than the current year's budget and requests $3.1 million more in county funding than last year.
Board Chairman Rick Koontz said the budget addresses some of the division's needs and represents the first step in a multi-year process to "fix" its salary scales.
"Sometimes I think about the way we've been operating the way some people survive," he said. "Most people like to have three meals a day, but you can get by with two if you have to. I think we've been getting by with two meals a day...
"Does this budget get us back to three meals a day? I don't think it does, but I think it's definitely working in the right direction."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org