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Teacher pay raises slashed from school budget

By Ryan Cornell

The fiscal 2015 budget approved by the Shenandoah County School Board includes a number of cuts from the school budget proposed earlier this year.

Division Superintendent Jeremy Raley said the cuts are a result of reduced local tax funding, $1.1 million less than the School Board proposed in its original budget.

"So we're able to provide salary improvements to get teachers to the benchmark, but no 2 percent COLA [Cost of Living Adjustment] on top of that," he said. "In addition, there was a lot of funding that was reduced for curriculum, instruction, professional development and additional resources for schools."

Cuts include a 2 percent cost-of-living pay raise for teachers, a teacher for students with limited English proficiency, a contingency teacher, three instructional resource coordinators, a Spanish teacher, a 12-month testing coordinator, a content coordinator, a technology technician, the implementation of a STEM curriculum, the replacement of school furniture and improvements in Internet bandwidth and network/wireless infrastructure.

The approved budget funds an increase in teacher salaries to the median salaries in surrounding school divisions, a 2 percent cost-of-living pay raise for all non-teaching division employees, a fix in the inequities in staff pay, the addition of three elementary school teachers, two teachers for students with limited English proficiency, a 12-month preschool coordinator, provides funds to lease five buses and funds the state-mandated increases in employer payments for health insurance and the Virginia Retirement System.

Because the Virginia General Assembly has not yet approved a final budget, the amount of education funding received from the state is still in limbo.

Raley said any surplus in state revenue will be given to the county, and the School Board will have to ask for approval to spend that money.

The fiscal 2015 school budget was approved at a work session on Wednesday by a 6-0 unanimous vote.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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