With declining enrollments, rising health insurance and retirement service payment costs, as well as other financial needs projected for the year ahead, the Mathews County School Board will be looking for an increase of 7.75 percent in local funds for its 2014-2015 budget.
School board members met Tuesday afternoon in the school board office conference room to review its draft budget ahead of next week’s public hearing.
The proposed $13.61 million budget represents an increase of $765,910, or 5.95 percent, from the current operating figure of $12.85 million. Much of that increase—$547,255—is being requested from the county.
Included in the budget is a 2 percent raise for all employees, plus step on the salary scale, amounting to an increase of approximately $291,000, according to Superintendent of Schools Dr. David J. Holleran.
“Our employees have been working hard, pulling extra duties due to the loss of 40 positions over the last three years,” Holleran said. “Somehow, we have managed to continue providing exemplary service to our students and community. Simply put—they have earned it.”
At the same time, the school division is looking at having to increase its payment to the Virginia Retirement System in the year ahead, with the additional contribution totaling approximately $260,400.
Another factor driving the school budget is declining enrollment. Holleran said that the division’s enrollment spiked last year to 1,174 students. At present, enrollment stands at 1,128. “I don’t have any rationale to tell you … except that people have had to find work” and some families have moved out of the county to do so, he said.
The present budget is based on an enrollment of 1,160 students; next year’s budget was prepared based on an Average Daily Membership of 1,118. This represents a drop in state revenue of approximately $160,000.
Added to that is a spike in health insurance costs. An increase of 15 percent, or approximately $110,500, is projected in the coming year as a result of higher fees and higher claims, the superintendent said.