During a budget work session held last Friday evening at Mathews High School, the Mathews County School Board agreed to include a 2 percent pay increase for all school employees, plus step, in its draft 2014-2015 fiscal year budget.
The work session was conducted immediately before the regular monthly meeting; both meetings had been rescheduled because of snow.
The draft budget called for a 3.18 percent increase in school funding for the upcoming fiscal year, with a total budget of $13.26 million. However, Kristi Anthony, the school system’s business and finance director, said on Wednesday that the wage increase the board requested will cause that amount to change, and it will be reflected in the next draft the board will see when it meets at 4 p.m. on March 4 at Mathews High School.
The current year’s budget is $12.85 million. As presented to the board on Friday, the proposed increase without the raise would represent $408,290 in additional funding. State funding is expected to increase by $243,645, with federal funding decreasing by $24,990, so the remainder would have to be made up by local funding.
Anthony went over the budget line by line with school board members, explaining in detail the proposed changes. They include a large increase in required Virginia Retirement System expenditures, an increase in health insurance costs; and additional costs for FICA and Medicare benefits.
In the instructional budget, increases include an additional $16,570 for office equipment and copier leases, a $25,000 increase in the purchase of instructional materials and supplies, and extra funding for coaches of $2,140. There are also
small increases in workers’ compensation and student insurance fees.
Partially offsetting increased costs in the instructional budget are decreases in the cost of Title I, IIA, and VI-B costs totaling $12,961.
School administration costs are budgeted to increase, as well, with most of the increase due to the cost of VRS and health insurance benefits and a new 10-month secretarial position at the school board office to help with extra reporting requirements. The cost of the new position is partially offset by a decrease in special education expenses, said Anthony. There are also additional costs for leasing a copy machine and child registry research and fingerprinting services.
The cost of salaries for transportation will decrease this year because a couple of employees retired, said Anthony, but the total budget for the department will increase because of required increases in VRS and health insurance benefits, a $10,000 increase for materials and supplies because of the cost of maintaining older buses, and small increases in workers’ compensation and vehicle insurance costs.
The budget for operations and maintenance has been increased by $50,511, including $7,388 to hire students to help with custodial duties since one custodial position was cut, and an additional $10,000 each to cover repairs to equipment and to purchase custodial supplies.
School board member Linda Hodges questioned the need for the steep increase in the cost of custodial supplies, a jump from $30,000 to $40,000. Board member Jen Little said she has noticed an increase in the cost of such supplies for a household and that the line item needed to be increased.
It was noted that the percentage of increase in VRS benefits for operations and maintenance is higher than that for the other departments—33 percent versus 20-24 percent. Anthony said she had repeatedly gone over the figures but she couldn’t determine why there was such a difference.