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Schools to get $360,000 more than current year from county

Halifax County School Board will receive $360,000 above current year funding, according to figures in the proposed 2014 budget presented for the first time to county supervisors Monday night.

The school board originally had sought $3.4 million in additional funding from supervisors, but later they reduced their request to $2.4 million, County Administrator Jim Halasz said.

The recommended budget includes $360,000 in extra funding for the schools that the school board can use to give 2 percent raises to all employees if it chooses to do so, said Finance Director Stephanie Jackson.

However, the $360,000 in extra local funding only restores school funding to the level in place prior to $250,000 being withheld for the efficiency studies, Halasz pointed out.

Staff recommended total county funding of $13,267,529 compared to the school board’s request for $16,630,336.

Funding for the school system has the most significant impact on the budget, according to the county administrator.

It accounts for over 70 percent of total expenditures when debt service is included.

The county is required by the Department of Education to fund the school system a minimum of $11,300,452 for the 5,219 expected student enrollment, which is $1,967,077 less than what is included in the proposed budget for 2014, Halasz said.

In the current year, supervisors contributed $1.8 million more than the commonwealth required, he added.

Including debt service, Halasz said the recommended budget will contribute $6,972,000 more than required in the coming year.

According to figures provided by School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon, the state is funding $33,251,861 in the upcoming school budget, $461,121 less than in the current year.

Of the state funding, $416,612 has been earmarked for providing 2 percent raises for Standards of Quality positions.

School board members are seeking an additional $308,961 from the county to provide 2 percent raises for all other positions in the school system so that all employees will receive across the board raises.

The cost for providing a 2 percent raise for all school employees totals $725,573, Herndon told school board members last week.

In addition to matching funds for salary hikes, school board members had requested the county to provide level funding of $13,256,000 as in the current year along with making up the $888,326 budget gap.

(The deficit includes a state funding shortage of $461,121, 2 percent local match for governor’s SOQ raises totaling $308,961 and increased expenses of $118,244.)

They also had requested $88,500 in additional needs that include $12,000 for buses, $4,000 for professional development, $7,500 for software and $65,000 for Governor School transportation and slots.

In all, the school board had sought $14,232,826 from the supervisors in the upcoming budget year, $976,826 more in local funding than was provided in the current budget year.