School board requests funding for salary increases, new positions

By: Meredith Baker | Twitter: @DinwiddieMonitr
Posted: April 5, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

DINWIDDIE –  The board of supervisors and the school board met in a joint session March 12 to discuss the fiscal year 2020 budget.

School Superintendent Dr. Kari Weston presented the proposed budget to the board of supervisors and said that teacher compensation is the number one priority. Employee and school board compensation, health insurance, and recruitment make up a large share of a $2.3 million increase in revenue in the proposed budget. 

“This is the bulk of the increase for this upcoming year, at about $1.4 million,” Weston said. 

Weston said that about $996,000 of that amount is intended to go toward teacher salaries. The plan is to move teachers up a step on the salary scale and also add $1,500 to the starting salary to set it at $44,500, making adjustments to the rest of the scale accordingly. If the plan is enacted, Weston said every teacher will receive between a 4.11 and a 5.5 percent raise. 

“We’re going to continue to make teacher salary a primary area of concern for us as we move forward,” Weston said. 

The scale for all other employees will remain the same, but employees will move up a step on that scale. 

The school division’s proposed operating budget, which does not include special funds for textbooks, grants, nutrition, debt service, or capital projects, is based on $46.3 million in revenue. Most of the additional revenue is coming from the state, but the school board is asking for a county transfer of $15.3 million, which is about $653,000 more than the transfer for the current year. 

The additional funding is divided among a number of categories, with $602,880 going towards new positions. Weston said the budget includes funding to allow every school to have a reading specialist. It also includes the addition of an assessment and data coordinator for the high school, a special education teacher, and new teachers to reduce the size of some classes at the middle school and elementary levels. The division is also trying to add a preschool class at Sunnyside Elementary School. 

Another $75,600 is going towards the category of Safe and Secure Schools, which will include two school security officers, as well as smaller amounts of funding for athletics expenses, such as the cost of referees, and school and community relations, which Weston said would pay for recognitions. The remaining amount of the operating budget increase is in the area of resource management and will go towards utilities and contractual services.  

Board Member Dr. Mark Moore said that the Virginia Association of Counties Education Steering Committee, a committee on which he serves, has lobbied the state to put more funding into education and thus assist counties like Dinwiddie who have stepped up to fund their schools during the state cuts of the recent recession. 

Moore said that, during his time in office, the county transfer to the school division has increased from $11.3 million to what could be $15.3 million for the upcoming year. 

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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