The Henry County School Board unanimously approved the preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget at a March 5 meeting.
The budget will now head to the Board of Supervisors for consideration at the upcoming March 24 meeting.
David Scott, assistant superintendent for Operations and Administrative Services, said that the total revenue expected based on Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposal would reach $88,073,018. Of that amount, 65 percent would come from state accounts, 22 percent from local funding, 11 percent from grants and the remaining two percent would come from other revenue sources.
“This is a 5.33 percent increase from last year while the House and Senate proposals are significantly more than that,” Scott said.”Once we get the final word from Richmond, that may change what the Board of Supervisors is able to do with our request.”
He also said that the expenditures for the next fiscal year will increase by $4 million. The total operating budget for FY21 would be $89,206,324 with $54,385,233 going directly to instruction.
Scott said the variance can be attributed to plans for increases in personnel pay and benefits as well.
As previously discussed in a joint meeting with the Board of Supervisors, the schools are looking to make strides in increasing steps for teachers and classified personnel. Personnel overall are budgeted to receive increases in pay and 23 new positions are also expected to be filled.
“Our plan is to give teachers a three step increase this year and the price tag for that is just over a million dollars. With what we have to match with retirement, that cost us another $800,000 for the employees,” Scott said. “That total variance within just that category is just over $3.7 million.”
The schools are asking for a local contribution of $20,058,738 which is $1,133,306 more than the previous fiscal year.
“I do believe this is within the means of our locality to do that,” Scott said. “I’m also helpful that we get a little help from the appropriations committee that takes a little off of our Board of Supervisors.
Vice chairman Dr. Merris Stambaugh clarified the need for increases in teacher salaries.
“You hear us refer to a three-step increase, but I want to point out that is catching up for lean years where we had fallen behind,” he said. “I don’t want to make it sound like we are just all of a sudden trying to grace our teachers. We are trying to catch up for where we fell behind.”
In other matters, the board:
*Approved $205,000 to buy Apple devices, software, and accessories for middle school students and staff.
*Approved the option to either purchase or lease, depending on available funding, Apple devices and accessories for students in 1st, 5th and 9th grades. The first option depends on year-end funds and would allow the schools to purchase the devices for 9th grade at a cost of $240,000 and to lease 1st and 5th grade devices at a cost of $340,000. The second option will allow the schools to lease all of the equipment for $580,500 out of the FY21 Technology Budget.
*Approved the purchase of Dell devices, servers, accessories and Microsoft Office licenses estimated to cost $100,000.
*Approved a request to piggy-back off of a contract awarded to Cintas, Inc., in order to provide uniform services to Facilities Maintenance technicians and School Bus Garage mechanics at a cost of $15,000.
*Accepted a right of way easement proposal from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to negotiate the easement agreement which would provide an additional $900 in revenue for the schools.
*The schools recognized March 2020 as Virginia School Boards Association Equity in Education Month. This month was also recognized as Music in Our Schools Month. The week was recognized as School Social Work Week and School Breakfast Week. The school board also recognized the craftsman that built the school division’s booth at Fast Track 2020. The booth won second place in the best non-profit category. Students who received all-region honors were also recognized at the meeting.