Hopewell school district needs money for raises
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Feb 26, 2013, 16:57
HOPEWELL — In December of 2012, Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed a 2 percent pay raise for all teachers in his budget amendments. Even though his 2014 budget includes $58.7 million toward the pay increases, Hopewell Public Schools is still struggling to find the money for that 2 percent.
Ray Watson, assistant superintendent for administration, further explained that McDonnell had made the proposal for Standards of Quality teachers. These SOQ guidelines include instructional programs supporting the Standards of Learning, SOLs, student achievement and graduation requirements, and instructional, administrative and support personnel. He added that SOQ teachers were identified not by position, grade level or subject, but by a number.
McDonnell has defined SOQ teachers as 61 teachers per 1,000 students, Watson said. This leaves it up to the school division to decide who these SOQ teachers are, and that is something that Hopewell Public Schools is not prepared to do.
“The school division decide who and we don’t want to decide who,” said Brian Capaldo, school spokesman. “We think that’s inherently unfair.”
In order to give all teachers in the division that 2 percent raise, it would cost approximately $590,000. Of the proposed $58.7 million in proposed funding for the 2 percent raise, Hopewell is set to receive $259,401. This number is determined by the city’s Average Daily Membership. The ADM is the amount that the division receives per pupil to run the school division.
Watson said the division cannot make the 2 percent work without reaching out to the city for help.
“We could not find enough to do it,” Watson said. “... We’re asking the city for $276,115. Without that, we can’t do it. We’ve looked at our budget, we looked at our budget. We’ve been very frugal for the last four years and if we cut enough positions to get that $276,115, it’s going to be very detrimental to our programs.”
Even though this has been proposed, it is yet to be determined if it will be implemented due to the budget not being completed in the House and Senate and the governor’s budget has not yet been adopted.
“We’re working off of the governor because we think that’s kind of the worst-case scenario right now,” Watson said, explaining which version of the budget Hopewell is using as a guidelines for determining the 2 percent pay raise.
Watson noted that once the School Board passes its budget, it has to submit it to City Council, as the school’s budget fits into the city’s budget.
“Our board will adopt a budget and submit it to City Council,” Watson said. “City Council will then accept it or say, ‘No we can’t have that much transfer,’ and send it back at which point the board has to decide what they’ll do.”
Even though the school division is asking council for $276,115, Watson said the division worked to try and ask the city for as little as possible.
“We have scrambled to be able to pull together a budget that asks the city for as little as we can in order to make it work because we’re cognizant of their budget constraints,” Watson said.
During the School Board meeting on Tuesday night, Superintendent Dr. John Fahey told the board that the two percent was all speculative at this point, saying a decision cannot be made either way until the state passes a budget. However, regardless of what version of the budget is finalized, Fahey said he worked to keep as much in tact in the school division as possible.
“We are trying to present a budget that meets the state’s request to give 2 percent but does not involve a lot of cuts in programs or any of the services to our schools,” Fahey said.