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The Hampton School Board met in a special meeting on April 16 to discuss the FY 15 budget.
Superintendent Dr. Linda Shifflette opened the meeting with a budget debriefing.
She shared that when the School Board approved the budget on April 2, the local revenue contribution was $70,023,049. The revised local contribution is $70,612,223, which includes a proposed personal property tax rate increase from $4.25 to $4.50. The net gain to the school division is $589,174.
She also shared that the Board approved $1,213,356 in contingency funding for FY 15. In addition, she said the Division faces a potential loss in funding of $379,741 in the class size reduction included in the Virginia House budget.
She said that if the Division covers the cost of the potential class size reduction from our contingency fund, the revised contingency amount would be $833,615.
She addressed the local contribution increase of $589,174 and recommended the Board restore the following cuts:
· One-day furlough for employees on 184-day or more contract
· Elimination of 75 percent of National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) supplement
After discussion, the Board voted unanimously to support Dr. Shifflette’s recommendation. Therefore, the recommended budget will not include the furlough or elimination of 75 percent of NBCT supplement.
On April 2, the Hampton School Board approved the FY 2014-15 school operating budget (Fund 50) and budgets for funds 51, 60, 65, and 94. Many of the Board members communicated their frustrations around the budget situation and the proposed cuts.
Before approving the budget, Martha Mugler, Board chair, shared the following:
“While the process is continual and ongoing throughout the year, serious budget planning began in November of 2013. The School Board has held three budget retreats, in addition to individual board member meetings with division leadership and members of City Council. We have engaged in five budget hearings and received public comment and written communications from members of the community. In addition, the superintendent assisted the city manager in presenting budget details to the public in a series of budget forums throughout the community during the months of February and March. Tonight’s vote is the culmination of those efforts, along with hours of calculations, study and preparation by our finance and division leadership teams.
To complicate our work this year, the division expects to sustain a reduction in State funding of nearly $600,000 and while we make gains in some areas across our state funding, it is not enough to offset the loss. Hampton real estate values have continued to decline, creating an expected local funding loss of $750,000, all the while, and our cost pressures have increased dramatically – most significant are the Virginia Retirement and Hampton Employees Retirement Systems, along with rising costs for health care. These three categories alone represent almost $ 6 million.
The School division is a funding-dependent entity. And like all School Boards across Virginia, funding is derived from a combination of federal, state and local resources. School Boards in Virginia do not have taxing authority. By law, funds are allocated on a yearly basis and spent on a yearly basis, with no allowance for saving or rolling over funds into the next year.
Hampton School Division operates in a fiscally conservative and responsible manner and has spent the last six years identifying efficiencies and trimming its spending. In doing so, the division has closed six schools, eliminated and reduced services, eliminated spouses from health insurance, reduced transportation, limited funding from necessary replacement schedules for busses and technology, restructured departments and deferred capital projects and maintenance.
Our community and city council rallied behind schools last year, and the council bravely approved a 20-cent rate increase to the real estate tax rate. Such a move is not expected this budget cycle.
Eighty-four percent of our budget is dedicated to employee salaries and benefits, leaving little else to modify and adjust. Following six straight years of budget funding reductions and increasing retirement and health costs, our ability to trim in areas outside of the classroom and staff has met with the end of its road.
Our work is not complete, as we await the final outcome with the state budget and our local City Council’s budget. We fully expect to return and make some adjustments to this budget after they have completed their work. It is projected that it could be as late as June before all is finalized in Richmond
We thank all of the employees and staff for their public comment. Your valuable input has not fallen on deaf ears. As we go back in to make adjustments, we will continue to consider all of your concerns. I would also like to thank the Superintendent and her Division Leadership team and our finance team under the direction of Mrs. Scott for your commitment to this budget process.
The final Superintendent’s budget proposal on which we vote tonight reflects adjustments to vital staff and critically important functions and programs. We have struggled to reach common ground with this budget. Our emphasis has remained focused on our mission and goals and making every possible effort to preserve that which takes place in the classroom.
While the adjustments in this budget are business decisions, this School Board is made up elected members, who are nothing more than human beings, and we are conflicted, heartsick, empathetic and sensitive to the effect this budget will have on so many lives. In the end, it is our responsibility to approve a budget that is balanced.”