Henry County school budget OK'd

March 28, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Henry County School Board on Thursday night approved a fiscal 2014-15 budget that requests a total of $17,054,742 in local funds, which is $476,847 (2.88 percent) more than the current year’s funding. 

The $476,847 includes:

• $187,930 for three items that the school division has no choice but to fund, according to Superintendent Jared Cotton. They are $151,616 because of such things as an 8 percent increase in health insurance premiums and an increase in Virginia Retirement System rates from 11.66 percent to 14.5 percent, etc.; $26,314 because of VRS group life percentage increase from former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s budget to House and Senate versions from 1.24 percent to 1.32 percent; and $10,000 to cover increased fees due to raises provided by the county to school resource officers, according to Cotton’s presentation. 

It also includes:

• $79,712 for three additional health office assistants to serve elementary schools. Cotton said these people are needed to dispense medications to students. 

• $37,407 to adjust contracts of two curriculum staff employees from 10 months to 12 months.

• $52,116 restore a general maintenance position to support facilities/maintenance. 

• $55,712 for a position to support budget/finance. Cotton has said there is extra work in that department because of the Affordable Care Act, the VRS hybrid plan and other things.

• $60,740 to restore stipends for academic and athletic coaches to the 2011 “factor” (level), including FICA/Medicare. 

• $3,230 to employ summer “student” interns for facilities/maintenance.

The budget projects an increase in state funding of about $1,739,497 (but an actual increase of $1,198,333 after taking into account an additional $541,164 in funding for fiscal 2013-14 for a 2 percent raise implemented in January). State revenue for fiscal 2014-15 is projected at $45,648,202. 

The budget continues the 2 percent pay raise for school division employees that was implemented in January. Dawn Lawson, HCPS’ chief financial officer, estimated the cost of continuing the raise in 2014-15 at slightly more than $1 million and said it will be paid for through a combination of state and local funding.

Cotton has said other funding is projected to increase about $31,000 in fiscal 2014-15. 

Overall, the budget, counting all sources of revenue, totals $73,520,944.

“I think this is a frugal budget,” said Ridgeway District school board member Francis Zehr 

The school division has had level county funding of $16,577,895 for this year and the two previous years, according to a budget document. The year before that, 2010-11, the school division received $17,077,895 in county funds.

“We need help from the (Henry County) board of supervisors” to get funding above the level amount, said Zehr. 

Board Chairman Joe DeVault, member-at-large, also indicated he thinks level funding is not adequate to meet the school division’s needs. “I hope the local governing body will provide some assistance,” he said.

Blackberry District school board member Tom Auker made the motion to approve the budget with a commendation to Cotton and staff “for working diligently on this budget.” 

“Dr. Cotton and his staff have done a great job,” DeVault added.

The board of supervisors’ public hearing on school and county budgets is set for 7 p.m. April 14 at the Summerlin Meeting Room on the first floor of the Henry County Administration Building, according to a school board document. 

The school board adoption of the 2014-15 budget is set for 6 p.m. June 5.

In other business at the school board meeting Thursday night, Zehr praised Cotton and school division staff members for monitoring roads diligently during recent snowy weather, and Zehr praised the Virginia Department of Transportation and Lisa Hughes, VDOT residency administrator. 

Zehr asked Cotton to write a letter commending Hughes “for cooperating with us to ensure safety of children” and to send copies of the letter to her bosses.

The school board agreed.


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