Chesterfield closes $12M gap in budget
By Ashley McLeod, Staff Writer
Mar 4, 2014, 15:58
CHESTERFIELD — The Chesterfield School Board came together on Tuesday to approve the budget for the 2015 fiscal year. The board closed a $12 million unfunded gap in the original proposed budget to make this budget balanced.
The board unanimously approved a budget in the amount of $564.9 million.
“This is the hardest job that we have to do,” said Dianne Smith, representative of the Clover Hill District.
A few changes were made to the Jan. 28 budget proposal presented by Superintendent Marcus Newsome in order to achieve the balanced budget,
To close the $12 million gap, the Citizen’s Budget Advisory and the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committees met and worked out both reductions and funding to make the budget balanced. This year the board put together a Citizen’s Budget Advisory Committee, which gave the community a chance to look into the school system and what find was needed in order for schools to be at their best.
The plan includes $3.1 million in reductions in order to save money, which includes outsourcing school custodial services, reducing warehouse operations, and eliminating the special education aide pool. The reductions will cut out 85 jobs, mostly in the custodial area.
But the new budget will also add to the school system.
“We’re beginning to add back some of the things that we have been missing,” said David Wyman, Dale District. “That’s what this budget represents, some tougher decisions, and trying to put more value and dollars back into the classroom as best we can.”
The budget plan includes $17.4 million for increasing salary and funding for academic and athletic supplements. Approximately $8.1 million will be used to decrease the pupil to teacher ratio by hiring new staff members. It also includes funding for remedial education programs.
The new budget will also help to restore approximately $60 million in funds and numerous jobs which were cut in 2008 and 2009 when the economy fell. The plan includes adding 125 new teachers and 16 support staff members in the school district along with a 1% raise for employees.
The budget for Chesterfield County schools has climbed in the past few years. Four years ago the budget amount was $594 million, and then dropped down to $517 million. The next couple years showed a slight increase to $534 million for 2014. The 2015 budget amount is still five percent short of the $594 million.
Both Smith and Representative Carrie Coyner spoke in the meeting on the challenges of producing the best budget possible. Although times have changed in Chesterfield, the focus is still the same for the board.
“We are budgeting for a Chesterfield that is not like the Chesterfield of 5 or 10 years ago,” said Smith. “The days and the times are different, but we never once reduced the focus of really putting forth for students of the best possible education.”
The proposed budget will be sent to County Administrator James J.L. Stegmaier for approval. The board also approved implementation of the Capital Improvement Program.
Cuts made to the proposed budget include:
· pilot outsourcing school custodial services (66 full-time positions) to cut $1,500,000
· reduce county charges for radio shop and information technology by $148,000
· reduce fund balance by $700,000
· reduce warehouse operations (11 full-time positions) by $455,041
· eliminate special education aide pool (eight full-time positions) to cut $249,746
· make technical adjustments to cut $34,813
Adjusted income for the budget include:
· revised revenue estimate from county adds $3,500,000
· one-time funding for replacement buses adds $4,000,000
· increase behind-the-wheel driver education fee to add $284,000