Suffolk School Board approves $248.5M Budget 

Published 10:00 am Thursday, June 27, 2024

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Wednesday’s June 14 board meeting saw the approval of the amended adopted fiscal year 2024-25 budget.

The 6-1 vote, with Board Member Dr. Dawn Marie Brittingham in opposition, follows Suffolk City Council’s consent agenda approval of the amended budget during their Wednesday, June 5 council meeting that added $5,859,206 of approved state funds to the budget’s original $242,729,721 amount. The added funds will be used to provide services for at-risk students and English Language Learners, a State-mandated three percent pay raise for school personnel as well as additional school operation needs such as three additional teachers and a special education coordinator as well as a new teacher salary of $55,141, Step 34+ listed at $90,122, and the new minimum wage of $15.72. 

At the May 29 Special School Board meeting prior to the adopted budget’s amendment, Board Members Brittingham and Kimberly Slingluff opposed the adoption of the budget, as they did in the March vote. During the March 25 Special Board meeting, Slingluff said she had lingering requests that were not satisfied and questioned the transparency.

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“I know it’s a small drop in the bucket, but as a board, I feel that it is prudent and wise that we as a board evaluate our own money that are allocated and budgeted, and we participate in that portion of our budget to determine where we’re spending the small bean of money that has been granted to us,” Slingluff said in March. “And at this time, although I’ve requested the specifics of that, I understand there may be some challenges and duress for the staff to produce that report. It leaves me a little unsettled because I feel that is an important part that we should be modeling for the school system — that we, as a board, are looking at that small bean of money that’s been given to us and determining where it’s being allocated, whether it’s still should be allocated there or whether we want to allocate it otherwise whether we can trim anything of our own budget or whether we need to enhance it in any way.”

The budget sees a 6.59 percent increase in personnel and operational investment, at a combined total of $8,152,162. SPS Chief Financial Officer Wendy K. Forsman gave a brief overview of the budget during the May 29 meeting.

“If you remember that budget, as Dr. Gordon said, you approved it on March 25, which included a STEP raise only for staff at that point,” Forsman said. “We included an additional Pre-K Classroom at Booker T. Washington (Elementary School), which included the teacher, teacher assistant, some furniture and equipment that was needed.”

Forsman detailed that 39.4 positions were included in the budget, including CARES Act Teacher Assistants, part-time teachers being converted to full-time teachers, Pre-K teacher assistants, and a dean for John F. Kennedy Middle School.