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A 2 percent spending increase is proposed to pay down debt and add a job in the central office.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
A spending plan approved by the Salem School Board on Tuesday eliminates five positions through attrition, furloughs administrative staff for four days and does not include raises.
The board unanimously approved a budget of $44.9 million for fiscal year 2014, which marks a 2 percent increase in spending from the current fiscal year.
The Salem City Council has the final word, however, and is expected to consider the school system’s budget April 22.
Mandy Hall, Salem city schools supervisor of business, said the increase is primarily linked to debt service on the new South Salem Elementary School and the receipt of two federal grants. The budget also adds a position in the central office.
That new position, along with new software that will among other things digitize items such as timecards, accounts for an almost 5 percent increase in central administration expenditures.
But the new position, Hall said, is something the school system cannot do without as it works through changes to the Virginia Retirement System and the impact of the nation’s health care law. The new position, an employee benefit specialist, will help the district’s payroll and human resources staffers who, Hall said, are already stretched thin.
“It has been overwhelming,” she said. “In that specific area there is massive under staffing. They have needed that for some time.”
The budget does not include any layoffs, though three teaching positions and two aides will be eliminated through attrition.
“No one lost their job,” Hall said.
The system will also forgo raises for staffers and administrators will be placed on furlough for four days for the second year. Salem, like surrounding school systems, struggled with being able to offer staffers raises.
Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a 2 percent raise for educators and the state budget does include the state’s share of Standards of Quality-funded positions. But educators have said that pays for a portion of a portion of the cost of the raises and some school systems have been unable to pay the local portion.
“There were lots of discussions about it. We would certainly have wanted to do that,” Hall said of the raises, explaining that giving them would have meant cutting programs.
Like other school systems, Salem also saw some reductions in federal spending as a result of sequestration. Title I and special education funds were cut back. Hall said local revenues were used to make up for those cuts.
“Basically any cuts we had to make we’re going to be funding with local dollars,” Hall said. “Our special ed, we would be covering that with local funds and have to make adjustments in other areas.”
The approved school system budget also includes reductions to professional development, travel, tuition assistance and materials and supplies. In addition it also raises the price of school lunches by 5 cents.
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