School Board presents requested budget to supervisors

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors sat down with the Fluvanna County School Board at a work session on Wednesday (Feb. 15) in a collaborative effort to understand the schools’ budget request for fiscal year 2018 (FY18).

The schools are asking for $472,292 more than the funding provided last year, said Interim Superintendent Chuck Winkler. The total amount of local money requested is $17.4 million.

The schools wish to implement a step increase in teacher pay to the tune of $840,588, said Winkler. They want to provide some “much-needed compensation for our staff,” he said. “Need is a relative term – but we need to compensate our staff. They do a wonderful job for us.”

The schools are currently entertaining a 2 percent pay increase for teachers. That increase is an average, which means that some teachers will receive a bigger raise while others will see less.

The schools also want to add $116,131 in staff-related costs, which would include a possible exploratory teacher at the middle school and heightened coaching supplements.

Coaching supplements “have been frozen for some time now,” said Winkler.

Divisional operating needs account for an extra $39,763 in requested dollars.

But a savings of $61,756 in health insurance costs will help to reduce the money needed to run the school system for the upcoming fiscal year. Winkler’s office had been bracing for a significant increase rather than a decrease, he said.

He also suggested that $462,434 might be available from the state to offset increased funding expenses, though he cautioned that the fact that the state has not yet passed a final budget throws any projection into uncertainty.

Total enrollment in Fluvanna County Public Schools currently stands at 3,545. After a decline over the past few years, enrollment has trended up over the past year or so, said Winkler.

About 30 percent of Fluvanna students are economically disadvantaged. This constitutes “a little uptick,” Winkler said.

Winkler also provided a peek into budget considerations for FY19. The schools predict they will want to continue to strengthen salary scales for all staff so as to remain competitive, assure competitive health insurance benefits, support professional development for all staff, bolster funding for classroom instruction including technology, increase staffing to assist in the K-4 literacy program, and fund a furniture replacement cycle for the schools.

The schools will also look into increasing staffing for psycho-educational services.

“It’s a whole lot cheaper than CSA services,” said County Administrator Steve Nichols, speaking of the program that provides services to at-risk youth, often at a later age.

The schools and county also considered a proposal from DecideSmart, a company that has offered to provide a comprehensive review of the ways the two entities could join together to save money. Savings often occur in the form of information technology (IT), human resources, maintenance, and procurement.

The study may cost between $45,000 and $50,000, said Lane Ramsey of DecideSmart.

Ramsey could not provide an estimate of how much money the schools and county would save by joining forces in those areas. He said it might take two years for the savings to materialize.

“We have way too many independent operations that talk but don’t collaborate,” said Nichols to both Boards. “While the price tag for these kinds of studies can be daunting, the long-term detriment of not doing these things” can cost significant dollars down the road, he said.

The study could take two to three months to finish. The Boards did not decide whether to enlist DecideSmart’s services.