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Superintendent Doug Schuch's 2013-14 budget includes a 3 percent raise for all school employees, seven new teachers at the high schools and middle schools and extra pay for math teachers.
Monday, March 11, 2013
BEDFORD — Capital projects, debt service, raises or all of the above? How to spend more than $6.1 million in new money for the Bedford County Public Schools system was the topic during a county supervisors budget work session Monday night.
Superintendent Doug Schuch presented his $104 million budget proposal for the 2013-24 fiscal year to supervisors. That budget includes money that the schools will receive from the state after Bedford reverts from a city to a town this summer. The county expects to use the former city’s favorable composite index to calculate its school funding from the state over the next 15 years.
Schuch’s budget, which could be approved by the Bedford County School Board this week, contains money for a 3 percent raise for all school employees, seven new teachers at the high schools and middle schools and extra pay for math teachers.
As part of the reversion agreement, the county must build a new middle school. Future state funds from the reversion will be used for that project. Reversion money will also be used to pay down debt service on capital projects, but some of that debt service won’t begin until the 2014-15 fiscal year.
District 4 Supervisor John Sharp urged Schuch and the school system’s chief finance officer not to budget all this year’s reversion money into general operations, because the money won’t be there for those expenses the following year because of debt service payments.
“I don’t want there to be an expectation of local dollars to fill in that gap,” Sharp said. He added that shortfalls could mean that positions added this year could be lost or that future supervisors may have to consider tax increases.
Schuch said that some of next year’s money could be used for one-time expenses, such as for new textbooks. He also said that he did not want to deprive students of services and programs, especially since the money will be coming later this year.
He said that the school board and supervisors can also make adjustments to the capital projects list in future years.
District 6 Supervisor Annie Pollard said it was her understanding that supervisors and school officials had agreed to use the reversion money for capital improvement projects.
“I admit that it was in a closed session meeting, but the public needs to know that we did have that agreement,” Pollard said.
The state is also requiring the school system to undergo an efficiency review, which could reveal other budget savings. That review will cost about $120,000.
Schuch also addressed possible school safety improvements in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. Schuch said security cameras could be added at schools. Sheriff Mike Brown recently asked for funds to pay for resource officers at county elementary schools.
Sharp said that the schools and sheriff department should examine the possibility of providing dedicated work space inside schools for on-duty deputies, rather than add new officers . Schuch said that parents and teachers have told him that they feel safer when officers are on the premises.
The school board could make adjustments to Schuch’s budget before it is sent to supervisors for their action.
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