Warren County Schools shift surplus funds toward teacher raises

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County School Board moved to enact a budget measure that, if approved by the Warren County Board of Supervisors, would raise teacher salaries by 2 percent next year.

In a five-minute special meeting on Wednesday, the School Board agreed to spend $381,661 out of its $1.7 million surplus funds on teacher salary raises. That move is set to go to the Board of Supervisors next week for approval.

Greg Drescher, the Warren County Public Schools superintendent, said Wednesday that the move is necessary for the district. He has previously said that the district needs to raise teacher salaries by at least 2 percent so the district can retain its teachers.

“It’s just reprioritizing what we need to do because the bottom line is we need to support our staff with the salaries,” Drescher said after Wednesday’s meeting.

The move comes one week after the Warren County Board of Supervisors approved its budget for the next fiscal year. In that budget, the Board of Supervisors provided enough money for the district to raise teacher salaries by 1 percent during the first half of the school year and by 2 percent during the second half of the school year.

By using the carryover funds, the district can raise teacher salaries by 2 percent throughout the school year.

At the end of every fiscal year, Warren County Public Schools has to return any money it did not spend. For that reason, the district annually spends its surplus funds on one-time payments.

Drescher said that spending a large fraction — over 22 percent — of its surplus funds on teacher salaries means the district will not be able to spend its funds on some other needed projects for the time being.

“We cut some reservicing work for one of our schools’ parking lots,” Drescher said. “We’re going to do one parking lot instead of the other. It’s just a couple things like that.”

But he added that the teacher salary raises are a particular priority for the district.

In addition to the teacher salary spending, the district is set to spend $440,000 of its surplus funds on replacement school buses, $140,000 on a replacement HVAC system at one of its facilities and $100,000 to purchase more Chromebooks for students.