The Carroll County Public School System’s Proposed Operational Budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 includes an increase of 5.85 percent in local funding, $630,869 more than last year’s request to Carroll County.
Dr. Strader Blankenship, Superintendent of Carroll County Public Schools, told supervisors Monday of budget challenges for the coming fiscal year that led to the additional request for funds. He said the school board learned of the first issue about four weeks ago in the form of a 9.4 % health insurance increase. According to the school board’s insurance company, about half of that increase is due to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
The second challenge is loss of enrollment. Blankenship said the current budget was built on an enrollment of 3,925 students, but the school system is actually closer to 3,865 students.
“We just want you to be aware we do have a loss of enrollment. Enrollment loss creates a loss of Standards of Quality (SOQ) funds of $421,379,” Blankenship said. “It also includes in this budget the 2% state mandated salary increase. That is not fully funded and you are aware that requires a local match to make that happen.”
There is also a mandated VRS employee contribution with offsetting salary increase. While a lot of school systems choose to pick up the entire five percent increase last year, Carroll opted to go with a one percent increase last year and one percent increase this year. That gives the county three more years to fill the remaining three percent required.
Budget adjustments include not replacing eight total positions, including a student data aide, a secondary aide, a school nurse, three teaching positions, a clerical aide and a custodian.
“Over the last four years we have reduced the staff over 60 positions through attrition. And every time we have somebody leave us for whatever reason, retirement or moving, we very carefully study that position to see if we have to fill it,” Blankenship said. “That’s just where we are at. These are already taken out of the budget. As a matter of a fact, remember that $420,000 (SOQ) figure? That is how we are covering that hole.”
As for revenues in the proposed budget, Blankenship explained that state revenues are down about $107,000 and federal revenues are down about $130,000, although “other revenue” is up about $6,000.
“The reason I am pointing those particular things out is we are in a situation right now where state government and federal government and pressing the cost of education down to the localities. We are getting much less state and federal revenue than we have in the past,” Blankenship said. “As a matter of fact, the percentage of the operational budget from state funds in 1998-99 was 62 percent of our budget. In the proposed budget it is only 58 percent, so you can see they are gradually forcing the issue of funding school budgets down to the localities.”
While revenues have declined, proposed school expenditures are up from $39,418,456 to a proposed $39,814,892. Expenditures for instruction are up about $218,000, expenditures for pupil transportation are up about $21,000 (due to the rising cost of business and fuel, Blankenship said), expenditures for operations and maintenance are up almost $44,000, and expenditures for technology are up about $11,000. Expenditures for administration, attendance and health are down about $54,000, which Blankenship said basically comes from not replacing a school nurse.
Overall, the proposed operational school budget asks for a 1.01 percent increase to reach the $39,814,892 it needs to operate in Fiscal Year 2013-14. Blankenship said the request to the county is an increase of $630,869.
Supervisors Phil McCraw and Dr. Tom Littrell, who comprise the county’s budget committee, were not in attendance at Monday’s meeting, but Chairman David Hutchins said they would be working hard on crunching the numbers.
“We certainly appreciate it. We know there is a lot of work there and we appreciate what you have done,” Hutchins told Blankenship. “We will probably pass it in part to our two absent members. We will take it and see what we can work out and try to do the very best we can.”