Board to vote on budget next week

Published 10:55 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The School Board will vote on the proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year during a meeting at Lakeland High School on March 20.

Teachers are pleased with the current budget, as it reflects a proposed $3,000 increase in salary for each teacher.

“Each year, a representative from our association appears to request salary increases and this year is no exception,” Sidney Neighbours, an eighth-grade teacher at John Yeates Middle School and president of the Education Association of Suffolk, said at last week’s meeting. “We are pleased with the proposed budget. We owe it to our students to provide a high-quality education, and that starts with recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers.”

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Support staff, both full-time and part-time, would also receive salary increases under the proposed budget. Full-time support staff would receive a 2-percent cost of living adjustment, and part-time staff would receive a 1-percent adjustment.

Altogether, the raises would cost about $4.7 million. A 2-percent raise, totaling $4,000, is proposed for Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney.

Former School Board member Thelma Hinton also spoke on the budget at last week’s meeting. Hinton believed the School Board should put more money towards the operation and maintenance of security services.

“It is disturbing to see $603,466. I would love to see an extra $300,000 to make it $1 million,” Hinton said.

Security services received an increase of slightly less than 1 percent from last year’s budget of $598,466.

The $168 million budget proposal would require nearly $7 million in additional funding, of which $4 million is requested from the city. The increase would also help with the costs to open and maintain two new schools, Florence Bowser Elementary and Col. Fred Cherry Middle.

Adding the new schools increases the cost to the budget by $2.2 million due to utilities and additional staff necessary, Finance Director Wendy Forsman said during the February meeting.

The entire proposed budget is an increase of 4.34 percent from the current year.

The budget was proposed with the assumption that state funding would increase by $2.9 million, and the increase would provide partial funding for a 2-percent raise.

However, the General Assembly was unable to pass a budget during its 60-day session, which adjourned Saturday. Gov. Ralph Northam has called a special session for April 11 to complete work on the budget.