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Warren County schools division approves budget

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County School Board has approved a $56 million operating budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

During a School Board meeting Wednesday,  Superintendent Greg Drescher noted that the district had received $634,000 less from the Warren County Board of Supervisors than the School Board had requested. But he nonetheless thanked the Board of Supervisors for their efforts to accommodate the district’s budgetary needs.

“Even in a year where we don’t have all of our needs met like we wanted to, we do appreciate the county Board of Supervisors doing what they can,” Drescher said.

After the supervisors approved the budget, the Warren County School Board met to provide teachers with a 2 percent salary increase for the entire 2018-2019 school year. The supervisors, Drescher explained, had only allocated enough money to raise teacher salaries by 1 percent for the first half of the school year and by 2 percent for the second half of the school year.

Last week, the School Board agreed to spend just over $300,000 of its surplus funds to raise teacher salaries by 2 percent for the entire school year.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Drescher thanked  School Board members for their “creativity” in approving the use of the surplus funds for the salary increases.

“I just commend the whole group for being able to do what they can with this type of budget,” Drescher said.

But although the School Board unanimously approved the budget on Wednesday, there is still a large amount of uncertainty surrounding the district’s funding.

That’s because the Virginia General Assembly still hasn’t approved the state budget. Depending on how much money the state legislature provides to the Department of Education for school funding, Drescher said, the School Board may have to approve its budget again.

But even without official word from the state, the School Board approved a measure that would allow the district to issue contracts for teachers.

Robert Ballentine, director of finance for the district, described that as a necessary move to hire and retain teachers.

“In the competitive job market we’re in right now, the sooner we can [issue contracts], the better,” Ballentine said.

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