By Callie Hietala
Members of the City of Martinsville School Board on Monday heard the first reading of the fiscal year (FY) 2022-2023 proposed budget, as presented by Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley and Executive Director of Administrative Services Travis Clemons.
A public hearing and second reading of the budget are scheduled for the board’s February meeting, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in council chambers of Martinsville’s municipal building (5 West Church Street, Martinsville.)
The proposed budget as presented is balanced, with anticipated revenues and budget expenditures each totaling $27,404,205.
According to Clemons, the school division is “applying most of our funding to instruction” and instructional technology—with a little more than 77 percent of the year’s estimated expenses or $19,857,763. A large component, Clemons said, has to do with the cost of raises ($781,874.)
Former Gov. Ralph Northam included a proposal for two, 5 percent pay raises for Virginia teachers over the next two years which, Talley told the board, would be given “across the board” for all employees.
Another significant expense is $1,055,149 for prevention, intervention, and remediation (PIR.) This funding, Talley said, is money from the state to help address learning loss. The budget proposes using the money to fund additional teachers to reduce class size as well as reading specialists, instructional software and materials, an elementary school counselor, and instructors for at-risk students, among others.
Requests from schools in the division totaled $437,650, and were mostly for hiring additional teachers and staff.
Martinsville Middle School requested $195,000 for a special education teacher, a student support specialist, and an elective teacher.
Martinsville High School requested $130,000 would pay for a special education teacher and school counselor.
Albert Harris Elementary asked for $26,300 to hire an instructional paraprofessional, while Patrick Henry Elementary requested $65,000 for an additional teacher.
A $21,350 request from Clearview Early Learning Center covers adjusted line amounts, furniture, and $608 designated as “personnel.”
Division-level requests totaled $43,900, including $4,700 for safety features on buses, $3,200 for pupil personnel services, and $36,000 to cover repairs and inflation costs for technology.
The cost of the division’s health insurance plan is unknown at this point, according to Talley, who told the board a company had been selected.
Overall, this fiscal year’s budget reflects an increase in $4,063,492 in estimated expenses. However, Clemons said, the division will not seek additional local funding to cover the increase. Rather, a hike in state funding, coupled with state sales tax revenues and state grants, will make up the difference.
Clemons said the school division expects to receive an additional $3,569,208 in state funds over last year, including a compensation supplement accommodate the 5 percent raises recommended by Northam, nearly $1 million for a hold harmless fund for enrollment, and slightly more than $1 million in PIR funding.
Overall, the budget proposal anticipates $18,845,499 in state entitlement funds, $6,219,545 in local funds, and $623,992 in other funds. The totals presented to the board also included $1,715,169 in capital funds, for the total $27,404,205 in anticipated revenues. Talley said the capital funds would not be included in the real operational budget as the city typically “puts a placeholder” on those funds.
Clemons said the division’s capital improvement list includes upgraded lighting with high-efficiency or LED bulbs division-wide, which, he said, would ultimately save in the long term in utility costs. Roofs are an ongoing issue, he said, and acknowledged that recent repairs have left many in good shape. Other “major wish list items,” Clemons said, include a gym addition and new/redesigned parking lots at Martinsville High School.
As the budget makes its way through the General Assembly, “we don’t anticipate that there will be a drastic change, because most of the (candidates) campaigned this year on supporting education and this is a budget that truly supports education,” Talley said. “We’re hoping that it stands.”
In other matters, the board:
*Heard from Coordinator of Academic Interventions, Title III, Foreign Language, and Mentoring Dr. Tamara Vaughan, who recognized Patrick Henry Elementary reading specialist Kelly Ramirez, who recently earned her National Board certification in literacy, reading, language arts—early and middle childhood. Ramirez said she has been at Patrick Henry for 8 years and has worked for the last 3 years to earn her certification. Vaughan said the division currently has 6 candidates going through the certification process.
*Recognized Patrick Henry Elementary principal Cameron Cooper for her recognition from the Virginia Department of Education’s Office of School Quality as a quality school leader in coaching conversation.
*Presented a school board service award to Janie Fulcher, who stepped down as the board clerk at the end of 2021.
*Heard from Talley on the division’s celebration of Virginia School Principals Appreciation Week.
*Heard from Athletic Director Thomas Golding, who recognized student athletes Andy Garcia and Michael King. Garcia, who, he said is the division’s first all-state football player since 2016. King was the first wrestler during Golding’s time at Martinsville to win both the Big Orange and Sarah Wilkes tournaments.
*Heard from CEO and Executive Director of the Martinsville YMCA Brad Kinkema on the partnership between the organization and city schools.
*Approved minutes from the Dec. 13 board meeting.
*Approved the financial report for the period ending Dec. 31, 2021.
*Feb. 2: 2-hour early dismissal
*Feb. 3: parent/teacher conferences (12-7 p.m.)
*Feb. 15: next regular school board meeting and second budget reading (6 p.m.)
*Feb. 25: tentative date for vaccine clinic at Martinsville High School (rescheduled from Jan. 28)