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Raises in the works, but funding in limbo

Halifax County School administrators are being joined by Gov. Bob McDonnell in their efforts to secure raises for teachers and other school employees this year.

However, where this money is coming from is an issue county officials will have to deal with during the ongoing budget process.

The governor has declared 2013 as the year of the teacher, and his budget calls for a 2 percent raise with localities putting up a portion of the pay hike in matching funds.

Under the $6 billion governor’s education budget, Halifax County is allotted $29.5 million for the coming fiscal year, a $170,214 decline from the existing level.

Of this $29.5 million, Director of Finance Jay Camp said $352,415 is earmarked for the 2 percent raise for all funded instructional positions including
principals, assistant principals, teachers, librarians, guidance counselors and instructional aids in the county.

However, the total cost of giving the 2 percent raise is $743,025, which means the county will be asked to come up with a $390,610 match. 

The raise, if approved, will go into effect July 1.

Another catch to the state providing monies for a portion of the 2 percent raises hinges on passage of the Governor’s Educator Fairness Act which would extend teacher probationary status from three to five years. It also moves toward performance-based pay for educators, tying student performance evaluations to their contracts.

In addition to the governor’s proposed raise, Camp explained the local school budget being submitted to the board of supervisors includes $1.1 million to fund a three percent raise for all employees. If all state and county funding is approved, school employees would see a 5 percent raise.

Camp is quick to point out, “The numbers are not final, and we’re just in a state of limbo at this time.” 

Last week, supervisors serving on the county finance committee got a preliminary look at the school budget that totals $60,271,863, up from the current year’s budget of $57,116,384.

Of the $60 million, the schools are seeking $16,630,336 in local funding from the board of supervisors, up $3,724,336 from the $12,906,000 funded in the current budget.

In all, the county finds itself starting the budget process with a $5 million gap between revenues and expenses.

Of the $5 million county deficit, over $3 million comes from the increase in the school budget.