School Board approves $64.9 million budget

WOODSTOCK – The Shenandoah County School Board approved the proposed $64.9 million 2017-2018 budget at a Thursday night meeting.

Superintendent Mark Johnston’s proposed budget is more than $3 million higher than last year’s $61.6 million budget. The proposed budget includes funding for employee compensation and benefits, instructional personnel and resources, communication resources and operating efficiencies.

The approved budget is higher than the previously proposed 2017-2018 budget, which was $64,811,247. The increase came after board members decided to increase teacher salaries to the current median salary range of surrounding school divisions to remain competitive.

Johnston said, “We are a people organization,” and employees should be compensated for their hard work and dedication.

Vice Chairman Rick Koontz added that the budget is a “scaled down budget” and doesn’t include every need of the school division, but represents some of the highest needs of the division.

“You’re always trying to catch up,” he added about the work that needs to be done.

During public comment, Gene Putkowski, of Star Tannery, said members of the community can’t afford a higher tax rate to fund an increased schools budget.

Teacher Wendy Whitford also spoke during public comment and said that she would like the board to support the new Destination Imagination program offered at several of the schools through a stipend to fund supplies and transportation to competitions.

The board also approved a fund balance of $1,022,864. Robinson, Farmer, Cox Associates completed the audit for fiscal year 2016 and reported their final computation of the school carryover fund balance for the year ending June 30, 2016 to be $1,022,864. Of this amount, $460,115 is from the division’s special grants budget and the remaining $562,750 is the fund balance from the division’s operational budget.

The board is requesting to use the fund balance for one-time capital projects in the transportation and maintenance departments, including replacing a vehicle lift system, fire alarm panel and devices at W. W. Robinson Elementary School, security cameras at the middle schools and Triplett Tech, a special education school bus, installation of electrical outlets for school buses at the central campus, repairing sidewalks and stairs at Ashby Lee Elementary School and repaving projects.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com