Copy article link
In a 5-3-1 vote the School Board voted Tuesday to approve acting superintendent Daniel Smiths recommended changes to the fiscal year 2024 operating budget, including an additional $16.3 million in county funding and a reduction in state funding by $13 million and to balance the budget.
With the vote to balance the budget they increased budgeted expenditures by $113,171, bringing the new FY24 budget to $1,668,345,179, 6.9% more than the fiscal year 2023 budget.
The $113,171 is the difference in the total budget from what the division originally asked the county for and what was eventually given to the division after all the different budget talks, according to division spokesperson Dan Adams. Adams said that money is already accounted for in the form of compensation within the budget.
The amended budget comes as the division continues to grapple with a state budget shortfall as it waits for the state to finalize its budget.
The County Board of Supervisors on May 16 voted to give an additional $13 million to the division for FY24 to address the state funding shortfall and another $3.3 million to fund collective bargaining administrative costs. The $3.3 million will come out of the divisions fiscal year 2023 year-end fund balance.
Smith in his January budget proposal estimated $3.3 million to fund collective bargaining and an additional 13 positions to manage it.
Chief Financial Officer Sharon Willoughby said raises were a priority.
She said in April when staff began looking at ways to reconcile the budget they found three main areas to review: compensation, one-time purchases that are eligible for year-end funding, and a broad category called other.
With compensation being 90% of our budget and the main driver of the increase for the FY24 budget, that is where we primarily landed on, she said. Willoughby said one-time purchases were reviewed but said the budget is very tight and the year-end fund balance that would be returned to the county continues to dwindle. She said in the other category they looked for ways to save but said the staff had already made substantial efforts to find savings when they developed the budget and the board had adopted a very lean budget already.
The reconciliation called for step increases for eligible staff. The plan, according to the presentation to the board, is to apply market adjustments to the current salary scale with the School Boards approval, after the state finalizes its budget and if no more reductions are needed to balance the school budget. Any further pay increases, like cost of living adjustments and strategic scale adjustments, are on hold until the state budget is finalized. Those will be paid after July but will be retroactively calculated to July 1.
Additional changes to the amended budget include giving one additional day of sick or personal leave to 10- and 11-month employees and to adjust the sick leave payout calculation for eligible employees when they retire. The proposed budget had sick leave for those employees increasing by four days and personal leave increasing by 2 days.
Tuesdays meeting was the last School Board meeting for the school year. The earliest the board will be able to meet to discuss further changes once the state adopts its budget is at its first meeting of the new school year on Aug. 8.
Im cautiously optimistic we will be able to provide some level of additional pay increase, Willoughby said.
Tiffany Polifko (Broad Run) opposed the reconciliation plan, and Jeff Morse (Dulles), John Beatty (Catoctin) and Denise Corbo (At-Large) were absent for the vote.