Mathews board gets first look at draft budget

Charlie Koenig - Posted on Jan 16, 2013 - 02:10 PM

Mathews County School Board members got their first look at the draft 2013-2014 budget Tuesday night, and unlike the past few years, they were pleasantly surprised by the numbers.

The news is much better than last year, when the division was forced to lay off several employees. "We took our hit last year, personnel-wise," Superintendent of Schools David J. Holleran said during the budget work session, which was held in the Mathews High School media center.

An increase in enrollment, a slight drop in debt service and administration/health costs, combined with the foresight of tackling the entire 5 percent increase in Virginia Retirement Service payments in last year’s budget, means that the division will be seeking an increase of only $152,801 in local funds, a number Holleran said is relatively small, considering the entire $12.8 million budget.

Included in the budget proposal is a 2 percent pay increase, plus step, for all employees. Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed a 2 percent pay raise for Virginia’s school teachers, the first state-supported salary bump in five years.

Holleran has added a step in order to preserve the division’s salary scale, as well as give school employees something to offset the cut in pay caused by the end of the Social Security payroll tax holiday.

The only addition in personnel is the restoration of a full-time Spanish teacher, who will split time between MHS and Thomas Hunter Middle School. Currently, MHS students are offered Spanish through a virtual online course and THMS assistant principal Laurel Byrd, a former Spanish teacher, is teaching a class at the middle school. The new employee would free Byrd for administrative duties, as well as provide MHS students with language instruction.

Although the division’s Average Daily Membership figure is hovering around the 1,180 mark, Holleran based next year’s budget on a more conservative ADM of 1,160. Part of the reason is the expected difference between the large graduating class and the incoming kindergarteners. The current budget was based on an ADM of 1,150.