Schools Face Tough Choices

   Written by on May 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

LUNENBURG – Lunenburg County Public School officials hosted the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors at Central High School last week as part of the Youth Government Day events and the local students and LCPS officials learned that county officials were proposing an increase to the local schools, but one that was well short of the amount that has been presented or hoped for by school officials during their budget projections.

Facing increases in VRS, insurance premiums, program costs, among other rising costs, the funding still leaves school officials over $500,000 short in their proposed upcoming budget.

LCPS officials stated, “The proposed additional funding of $250,384.00 to the school system is $94,116.00 above the current operating budget of $3,445,884.00 for 2016-17.  The current operating budget was derived from the adopted 2017 budget of $3,289,616.00 plus the savings the school system made from the 2015-16 school year of $156,268.00.  The school system for 2017-18 still faces a budget shortfall of over $500,000.00.  The Lunenburg County School Board is exploring ways and means to meet the deficit. At the March 30, 2017 meeting with the Board of Supervisors, the school system asked for $794,785. This amount includes a 2% raise for all employees, increase in VRS retirement benefits, increase in health insurance premiums, and unfunded mandates required by state and federal laws that were handed down to all school divisions for the upcoming school year.”

The statement goes on to say that the proposed 2017-18 school budget was based on “needs only.”

“We are operating on a ‘bare bones’ budget”, stated LCPS Superintendent Charles Berkley.  He continued, “We’re at a point now where there are no more areas we can really cut and we are doing the best we can to manage this budget without impacting classrooms and academics.”

The release also said that the school system has not recently taken on any capital improvements, has deferred purchasing school buses, and has not replaced some school personnel who have left the system as a result of local funding having not increased in over a decade, despite cost of living increases and other inflationary factors.

The statement continued, “We are doing the best we can to manage our current budget without impacting classrooms and academics. As the new 2017-18 school year is upon us we will have to make difficult choices regarding programs we may have to cut or modify.  This could include cutting some of the tuition funding for the dual enrollment or CTE programs at Southside Virginia Community College which could leave parents and guardians absorbing some of the tuition.  We’ve had enrollment growth this past school year with an increase in SPED and ELL students attending our schools. These students require additional resources and personnel that are not fully funded from State and Federal allocations. Schools have also been notified that Federal funding would be greatly reduced in some areas in the coming year. “We have done so many things to cut costs over the last couple years that there is “no more meat on the bone to scrape off.”

“Let’s keep raising the bar and demand more from ourselves and those around us to achieve successful outcomes for our kids and our community. Let’s leverage all of our resources and all of our love on behalf of the children and young adults in Lunenburg County who are depending upon us for their future success.”

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