School board approves budget; seeking $1.4 million in additional county funding

The Pulaski County School Board voted unanimously Monday evening to approve its 2018-19 budget, which requests an additional $1.4 million in operational funds from the county.

In his budget presentation to the board, Chris Stafford – Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Business Operations – explained the budget proposal is built using state funding figures provided in Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget, which Stafford said represent the most conservative estimate of additional state revenue for Pulaski County Schools.

The $47 million budget proposal includes $25.9 million in state funds – an increase of $243,126 over the current year – and $4.2 million in federal funding, along with $817,037 in “other” funds.

The state revenue projection is based on a projected Average Daily Membership (ADM) of 3,937 students.

The big boost in school funding being requested, however, comes in county funding.

The budget includes the same amount of county funds as this year’s budget – $14,604,134, but requests an additional $1,382,592 in county money.

Stafford said the school board had previously reviewed priorities for the coming fiscal year.  “These priorities consist of a framework of overarching beliefs accompanied by specific action items,” Stafford told the board.

The additional $1.4 million being sought from the county is requested to fund nine specific needs seen by the school board, which support those priorities.

The nine include:

  • Step increase for teachers – $246,124
  • Pay increase for support staff – $82,677
  • New pay scales for employee groups – $464,450
  • Wireless infrastructure at PCHS – $274,037
  • Extended contracts for ITRT positions – $19,693
  • Laptops for 350 teachers – $210,000
  • Instructional technology for classrooms – $348,000
  • Additional days for SPED teachers – $58,373
  • Add student services coordinator – $64,229

The total for these nine budget items is $1,767,583.  That figure, however, is reduced to $1.4 million through a $243,126 projected increase in state funds and a $141,865 projected decrease in VRS contributions.

The increase being sought for operational funding is in addition to a list of 10 capital improvement priorities established by the school board in a resolution passed in November.

Those 10 capital improvement needs – along with the need for three replacement school buses, 2 maintenance vehicles and 2 pupil transport mini-vans – total $3.3 million.

The capital improvement list, according to the school board’s November resolution, prioritizes the needs to be addressed as funds become available.

The list is topped by an HVAC upgrade project at Critzer Elementary School ($750,000) and the conversion of the CTE building at PCHS from electricity to gas ($975,000).

The school budget and capital improvement list will be the main topic of discussion by the school board and board of supervisors at their joint meeting set for Monday, April 9 at 6 p.m. in the IT Training Room at the Maple Shade Plaza in Pulaski.

By Mike Williams, The Patriot