School Board’s first look at proposed budget

By Ruthann Carr

Fluvanna School Superintendent Peter Gretz presented a proposed Fiscal Year 2023 budget at Wednesday’s Feb. 2 budget meeting.

It included adding a half-time English language learner teacher, two school counselors (one at Carysbrook and one at the high school) and one more nurse at the high school.

It included a 5 percent raise for teachers and a 7.5 percent raise for support staff.

The proposed budget is $51,983,078, roughly $1 million more than FY22. 

If the School Board approved the budget as presented, the total needed from the county would be $19, 727,761. 

The Board seemed shocked at Gretz’ ’suggestion to move all teachers from Scale B to Scale A. 

“We’ve been told for years that wasn’t possible,” said Andrew Pullen (Columbia).

It would cost $531,410 to move the 159 teachers on Scale B to A.

“The real question is how much will it cost in subsequent years,” Pullen said.

Board Chair James Kelley (Palmyra) asked Executive Director of Instruction and Finance Brenda Gilliam to come back to the Board with what the differential would be over years of moving teachers from Scale B to A.

Due to the 2008 recession, the Board of Supervisors in 2010 cut funding to the schools. 

That dearth in funding caused the School Board to make severe reductions in salaries and to enact furloughs. 

The School Board also created a new salary scale (Scale B) for new teachers hired. 

For many years teachers hired on Scale B made less initially and also over their teaching career. 

In the past few years the School Board made it a priority to increase salaries for teachers on Scale B. So much so, said Gilliam, that the scales are now the same for the first 20 years. 

“When we were looking at the numbers, I said to Dr. Gretz, ‘It would be cheaper to move everyone to Scale A,’” Gilliam said. 

Gretz said his proposal included budget priorities gleaned from the school board, staff and the community.

“We put the focus on compensation,” Gretz said. 

Gilliam told the Board health care costs are rising.  

For several years the Board absorbed the rise in health care costs so staff didn’t have to pay the increase. However, that may not be possible this year. 

At the Feb. 10 School Board meeting the Board is expected to pass a budget because they must present a finalized budget to the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 16. 

If they can’t come to a decision at the Feb. 10 meeting, the School Board will meet again on Feb. 14.

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