Cutting supplies

Earlier in March the School Board had approved a $14.1 million budget.  Still, Keller is pleased, as last week’s advertised tax rate is higher than the $12.2 million the schools were told they would receive.

“I am still pleased that there was a lot of effort put in to push us closer to the $14.1 million,” said Kelle at Wednesday night’s (March 27) School Board meeting.  “It wasn’t what we asked for, but we’ve got to recognize that there was effort.  That money goes back to our staff … we need to hold true to as many things as we can do for our staff.”

Although 33 positions and two school buildings have already been cut to meet this year’s tight budget, further cuts will likely come from instructional supplies, health insurance and technology.

At $92,900, the line item for instructional supplies for next year is double what was in the school board budgeted for this year, but it’s still not the $50 per pupil they were hoping for.  The School Board has faith that “community momentum” will make up for the gap.

“My constituents are always asking how they can help,” said School Board Member Carol Tracy Carr. “Supplies is the most user friendly line-item.  People can go to the store and buy a block of paper, and that adds up.”

Cuts will also be made to technology.  The School Board had hoped for $307,600 to fund a variety of technology initiatives to promote math and science education, but that will instead be decreased to $82,600.

Teachers present at the school board meeting were most concerned with technology cuts, as it means outdated teacher laptops will not be replaced.

“I’m just going to buy my own laptop, I’m serious.  This is my eighth year and I have the same laptop,” said one middle school teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous.  Another middle school teacher told a story of having three unusable LCD projectors in her room because the schools could afford the $270 bulb replacement.

“The textbook isn’t correlated to the changing Standards of Learning,” said the teacher. “I rely on LCDs to keep curriculum current.”

The school board is hoping to get creative with grant funding and Virginia School Board Association monies to help fill some of these gaps.

Health care costs are anticipated to go up by 10 percent next year.  The School Board had hoped to pay for the full increase, but with limited funds, they are looking at the possibility of passing off 1.5 percent of that increase to employees.  However, because the school system is self-insured, if the employee pool is healthier this year (or more people drop out because they can’t afford health insurance), then health care costs may remain equal.


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