Despite an effort from the Commonwealth to increase funding for K-12 schools, the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 resulted in a revised State budget that removed most of the additional State funding for the upcoming Northampton County School budget. Other funding streams are also in jeopardy, such as Sales Tax Revenue and Lottery Revenue, since payment of that funding is contingent upon actual sales taxes and lottery proceeds collected.
The Post-COVID budget presented to the Northampton County Board of Supervisors on May 12 showed projections of $8,349 less in State Funding and $1,346 more in Miscellaneous Revenue than currently budgeted. In addition, the School Board requested approval to use $130,400 of fund balance for maintenance projects in the schools and a new English Textbook adoption for Grades 6-8.
Raises for Teachers and other employees were originally planned for FY 21, however revenue reductions resulted in the elimination of almost all compensation adjustments from the Post-COVID budget. Remaining increases were related to the higher Minimum Wage and increasing the employer contribution toward the cost of health insurance by $20 per month. The School Board made this a priority after learning that Northampton’s employer contribution percentage in 2019 ranked 118 out of 118 responding school divisions, according to a study by the Virginia Education Association. Virginia Retirement System rates increased, resulting in approximately $95,780 of additional expenditures. Other expenditure increases included for FY 21 include the planned replacement of 2 school buses and 18 classroom smart boards, adaptive equipment for students receiving Special Education services, professional development on safe student restraint, and a part-time Social Worker, in addition to price increases for software and services already being used. These increases were offset in part by the elimination of three instructional positions due to declining enrollment.
Ultimately, the School Board requested increased funding of $42,915 from the Board of Supervisors, which represents one year’s payment toward the purchase of the two buses. After hearing County Finance Director John Chandler’s budget overview that same evening, a reduction in School Funding from the County appears imminent.
School Board Members plan to continue budget discussions at their next meeting on May 28, 2020.