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At Wednesday's meeting, the board remained unanimous about granting a one-step pay increase for school employees.
Friday, May 3, 2013
Discarded jobs and programs littered the path Wednesday as the Franklin County School Board considered steps it might take toward closing a budget gap of nearly $1.5 million.
Chairman Ed Jamison called it the saddest time of his six-year tenure.
The board took no action Wednesday night. Member Bill Brush said there still could be a chance the county can provide more money for the coming fiscal year without the real estate tax increase the board of supervisors rejected last week.
The school board remained unanimous about granting a one-step pay increase for school employees based on a minimum raise of 2.5 percent for fiscal 2013-14.
“We made a commitment to people that, if they stayed with us, there would be a reward,” Brush said.
The raise would rely on about $444,336 in state dollars and about $1.2 million from the schools budget.
Meanwhile, the school board considered a host of potential cuts.
For example, discarding middle school sports and trimming the high school’s athletic budget by $14,450 could yield about $89,450.
Eliminating all 34 tuition slots for sending students to the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School for Science and Technology could save nearly $140,000.
A 20 percent cut in the gifted and talented program could save $12,760.
The board talked about cutting numerous jobs, including the elimination of several social workers and resource teachers who work with children struggling to learn, as well as other instructional positions.
As proposed, the division would no longer employ a full-time athletic director and might eliminate one position in the school district office.
Ultimately, the board directed Superintendent Mark Church and other administrators to decide which jobs to cut, with a target savings of about $550,000.
During discussion about axing tuition for the Governor’s School, board member Thad Montgomery said he is more concerned about the future of a second-grader who is having trouble learning to read than that of a high achieving high school student.
“Governor’s School students are going to be successful, no matter what,” Montgomery said.
But Brush and board member Sarah Alexander balked at cutting all the tuition slots.
“What kind of message are we sending?” Brush said.
Alexander said students are taught to honor their commitments and that the school division should do the same for students who excel.
Church said Franklin County’s exit could leave the regional Governor’s School in the lurch.
“They do count on our participation to make this work,” he said.
On April 23, the board of supervisors voted 6-1 to leave the jurisdiction’s real estate tax at 54 cents per $100 of assessed value. School officials had hoped supervisors would approve a 2-cent increase in the tax because the revenue yielded, about $1.2 million, would have boosted school funding.
Supervisors had previously directed about $1.1 million in new revenues to the school system’s budget for fiscal 2013-14.
The $124 million budget supervisors adopted for the coming fiscal year includes a contribution to the schools of about $31.6 million. The county’s contribution to the division for the current fiscal year totaled about $30.3 million.
After the meeting Wednesday night, Alexander said the budget cuts being considered by the school board would have a far-reaching impact.
“It is deeply disturbing that, when the board is faced with budget cuts, we realize that every school will be adversely affected,” she said. “Indeed, it is likely that every child could be negatively impacted in some way. This is unacceptable. It is within the power of the board of supervisors to help this situation.”
David Cundiff, chairman of the board of supervisors, said Thursday that he could not comment about whether the county could afford to contribute more toward the school division until he and his colleagues have more information.
“I would need to know the amount they’re asking for before I can say anything,” Cundiff said.
The school board will meet again May 13.
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