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Officials asked the county for an additional $5 million to replace reduced state funding.
Franklin County Budget Calendar
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors and the school board have scheduled two joint budget workshops, if needed, in the weeks ahead, with the possibility of a third as officials move toward adopting budgets for fiscal 2013-14.
Key meetings scheduled:
-- Board of supervisors public hearing on proposed school and county budget
When: April 16, 7 p.m.
Where: Benjamin Franklin Middle School, east auditorium, Middle School Road, Rocky Mount
-- Board of supervisors adoption of school board and county budgets
When: April 23, 6 p.m.
Where: Supervisors meeting room, Franklin County Government Center, 1255 Franklin St., Rocky Mount
Friday, March 15, 2013
Members of the Franklin County Board of Supervisors listened quietly Tuesday night as the county’s school board chairman and then school superintendent presented the school division’s proposed budget of about $83 million for fiscal 2013-14.
Superintendent Mark Church said the schools are seeking an increase in county funding of about $5.1 million, an amount that would bring the county’s total contribution to about $35.6 million.
Supervisors remained mum after Church and school board Chairman Ed Jamison completed their presentation. No one on the board asked a question.
Church, who became superintendent in December after serving since mid-July in an interim role, began by emphasizing that the county’s public schools are recognized “across the commonwealth and the nation” for excellence. Current enrollment is about 7,134 students, he said.
Jamison said the schools will suffer cuts in “programs and people” without adequate funding. Church warned that good teachers could be lured to other regional school divisions because of attractive signing bonuses.
In a memo to supervisors, County Administrator Rick Huff and county residents, Church noted that the schools have experienced a reduction in state funding of 20.9 percent in four years while also shouldering state-mandated changes to the Virginia Retirement System rates for retirement, health care credit and group life insurance.
During a March 5 public hearing, school officials described a total proposed budget for the coming fiscal year of about $80.4 million, which would have been an increase of about $1.4 million from the current fiscal year.
But during a meeting Monday, the school board revised the budget upward to a total of about $83 million.
Initially, the school budget sought about $33 million in county funding, a figure that included a related county funding increase of about $2.5 million.
But budget revisions made Monday added about $2.6 million to the county request.
That figure would include an anticipated tuition increase from the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School, hiring of a behavior specialist with expertise about autism spectrum disorders, adding guidance counselors, planning for the use of electronic textbooks, planning for the development of a new career and technical education center, school safety upgrades, school bus replacements and more.
The division’s budget includes a proposed 2.5 percent cost-of-living “move up one pay step” increase for employees.
The topic of school security became a national discussion after the killing in December of 26 people by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Church said the school division estimates it needs to spend about $628,612 to enhance safety measures. The costs would include adding high-definition cameras and other cameras, buzzer systems, peep holes in the doors of mobile units, barriers that would guide visitors to the main office and other measures.
He said about $350,000 would be necessary to move forward with planning for a new career and technical education center.
And the school anticipates an expense of more than $1 million to replace 12 school buses, he said, a total that could be reduced because of current funding.
Meanwhile, Franklin County officials are working to draft the county’s budget for fiscal 2013-14. The county’s budget for the current fiscal year totaled about $121 million.
Earlier this month, Huff and County Finance Director Vincent Copenhaver advised supervisors that they expect an increase in local revenues of slightly more than $2 million. Copenhaver confirmed Thursday that he anticipates increases in revenue from real estate, personal property and sales taxes.
And Huff told supervisors that Franklin County’s outstanding debt totals about $42.4 million, an amount he said was among the region’s lowest. The county faces incurring additional debt if several capital projects move forward.
One such project would be paying for the new career and technical education center envisioned for county schools.
Another would be upgrading the county’s emergency communications system, an undertaking that could cost as much as $26.1 million.
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