School Board to explore budget options

Published 11:44 pm Friday, January 14, 2011

The Suffolk School Board will be working to overcome an estimated $5.3 million deficit in next year’s budget.

The estimated cuts followed Gov. Bob McDonnell’s recently announced budget amendments.

“There are several million that we need to identify,” said Michael Brinkley, executive director of finance for Suffolk Public Schools.

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At Thursday’s meeting, Brinkley presented preliminary estimates for the 2011-2012 fiscal year based on McDonnell’s proposed reductions in funding.

He explained that reductions will affect the current school year by decreasing revenues — and therefore available expenditures — by $762,602.

In addition, expenditures for the 2011-2012 would need to be decreased by $2.4 million.

The net decrease for the fiscal years 2010-2012 is $3.2 million.

This decrease will be further complicated by the McDonnell’s proposal to decrease VRS funding, Brinkley said. With the decreased VRS funding, the net deficit over the next year comes to $5.3 million.

Brinkley explained that in years past, the School Board has been able to make cuts by reducing energy consumption and delaying equipment purchases. Brinkley stated that the school system will most likely have to use grant funding for any new equipment it purchases this year.

On a good note, Brinkley said utility costs have not been as high as budgeted and that school division employees filed fewer insurance claims than expected. He suggested that the board could use the money budgeted for those things to begin to make up the difference.

The budget cuts have been set as a priority for discussion at the School Board retreat which has been set for Feb. 2 at 9 a.m. in the Black Box Theater at King’s Fork High School.