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Bedford County officials to meet tonight to discuss school budget; more money likely
Added funding is likely to come from the state when the city becomes part of the county.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Bedford County supervisors and school officials will meet this evening to discuss the school system’s budget, which will almost surely include more money from the state and possibly less money from the county.
Superintendent Doug Schuch has proposed a $104 million budget to the Bedford County School Board, a budget that will include raises for employees, more money for technology and plans to maintain two schools that the county will take over when Bedford city switches to a town system of government.
The raises would be the first in nearly five years for school employees. The school board has cut about $11 million from the budget since the recession began in 2007.
“This is much better than when we were having big cuts and having to lay people off,” said school board Chairman Gary Hostutler. “We’re able to give people raises. It’s very positive. This is my eighth year and it’s been difficult for the last four of those years. I told some of the new school board members, ‘Hey, you’re getting off easy.’ ”
The officials will hold a work session today prior to the supervisors’ regular meeting.
The school board could approve its budget Thursday. Right now, the superintendent’s proposal includes a request of $39.4 million in county funds, about $2.1 million less than the county provided in 2012-13.
Bedford County schools will receive more money from the state when the city becomes part of the county this summer and its school system merges with the county’s. The county will be allowed to use the new town’s lower composite index value that determines a locality’s ability to pay for its schools.
That means the county is slated to receive nearly $6.1 million in new money from the state in 2013-14. The county will be able to use that same composite index for up to 15 years. The county schools also will get about $5 million in new state money that used to go to the city schools.
Thanks to the additional state funds, the superintendent’s budget proposal is about $5 million more than last year.
The school board could ask for more money from county supervisors than Schuch’s proposal currently requests. Hostutler noted that the county school system will have additional costs to maintain Bedford Elementary and Middle schools.
“That $6 million [in state funding following reversion] gets eaten up really fast,” he said.
Schuch’s budget calls for a 3 percent raise for school employees, more teachers at the middle and high schools, and supplemental pay for high school math teachers. Schuch told the board on Feb. 28 that the county high schools have “experienced an unacceptable amount of staff turnover” among math teachers.
His proposal also calls for more money for technology improvements that will bring wireless broadband service to all county high schools and middle schools by 2014 and to all elementary schools by 2015. He said the county must make these improvements in order to produce students who are ready for the careers of the future.
“One trend that we know to be true in the current job market is that fewer and fewer middle-class jobs are available for students who only achieve a high school diploma,” Schuch told the board. “Whether we like it or not, automation and the rise of global economies have led to the decrease of many middle-class jobs in our country, especially in the manufacturing sector, and we don’t have any reason to believe that these jobs will ever return. … The world has shrunk, economies have shifted, and the difference between success and failure for our students in the future largely hinges on what we provide or don’t provide.”
The Bedford Bulletin contributed to this report.
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