Hopewell school budget approved
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Mar 14, 2014, 13:24
HOPEWELL — The Hopewell City Public School Board unanimously approved the $52 million budget for the next fiscal year at the board meeting on Tuesday evening.
Dr. John Fahey, superintendent of HCPS, presented the budget before the public hearing at the meeting and in addition to giving the breakdown of facts and figures, he also shed some light on the challenges the school division faces with each passing school day.
One of the biggest challenges Fahey spoke of at the meeting was the amount of poverty facing the students. Based on research given during the budget presentation, in America one in four students live in poverty, in Hopewell that number is four in five students. The poverty rate in the division was 61 percent in 2007 and in 2014 that number rose to 82 percent.
“It is something historically throughout the United States has widened the achievement gap,” Fahey said. “I contest that in Hopewell we’re closing that gap. I am very proud to be a leader of Hopewell City Schools for that reason.”
Based on the numbers provided before the scheduled public hearing, in which no one chose to speak, 73 percent of the division’s operating fund is spent on instruction in the classrooms.
Of the $52 budget, $47 million is composed of the school operating fund. The rest of the budget goes to the building and bus replacement fund totaling $610,180, the textbook fund at $650,000 and the food service fund at $3 million.
“With the challenges and the needs of our students the best thing I can offer them is solid, strong teachers that do direct instruction that improve achievement,” Fahey said. “And I think those are the results we’ve been seeing.”
An example of those results were the preliminary data from the Hopewell High School Fall standards of learning scores from 2013-2014.
Mathematics came in at an 85 percent pass rate, 45 points up from last year, reading was up 16 points at a 71 percent pass rate, Science also increased with six points to come in at a 71 percent pass rate and History improved as well by four points to come to a 72 percent pass rate.
To aid in retaining the “strong” teachers Fahey said exist within the division, the board has requested a three percent cost of living increase as well as putting three new positions into the classrooms.
The two positions that were previously grant funded are in the subject area of math and were at Hopewell High School and the other positions to be added would be an English position. Those three positions will cost the division $197,325.
“In the last five years we’ve cut 15 positions so I think asking for three more is not a great demand,” Fahey said.
The budget for FY 2015 also reflects a decrease from last year in the amount of $23,577. Part of that downfall is attributed to rising fuel costs, an increase in electricity bills, and funding the increase in bus driver’s salaries.
Last year, the school board unanimously approved for a pay raise for the bus drivers in the division. The salary of the bus drivers went from $9.70 an hour to $12.22 an hour. The pay increase was done in the middle of year and there were unfilled positions, thus making the increase affordable. Now, the division has to continue funding the increase, which will cost $148,579 for a full year.
“I’m very proud that Hopewell does better than most considering the challenges we have and the funding we’ve received,” Fahey said. “Our kids deserve the best. Our needs continue to grow…our resolve is to continue to make Hopewell proud.”