Budget package could benefit local schools

Published 7:44 am Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently proposed a $1 billion budget package for K-12/higher education, and Charlotte County Public Schools could benefit.

“I am anxiously awaiting the details of the governor’s proposed budget,” Charlotte County Public School Superintendent Nancy Leonard said about the news.

“Although the initial numbers are encouraging, I will need to review how many provisions and exceptions are attached to accessing the additional monies.”

In a press release, McAuliffe said there has been a buzz around the commonwealth concerning schools having to do more with less.

“The governor’s robust two-year budget proposal aims to prepare all         students to succeed in the new Virginia economy by providing them with much-needed resources and innovative support,” said the release.

Leonard said last year’s provision included a 1.5 percent raise.

“The ‘raise’ that was announced was actually a one-time, one-year lump sum of money to the school division to provide for one year’s raise on base salaries only for Standards of Quality required positions,” Leonard said.

Based on this, she said a financial burden was placed on the school to provide a raise for all employees to cover benefit and retirement requirements.

“The State did not allow for the one-time limited monies given to be used as a one-time bonus distributed equally among all employees. There were very strict requirements to be able to access the funds which required us to dig even deeper into our local budgets,” said Leonard.

McAuliffe said he is hoping that his proposed ideas will help get the Virginia economy back on track.

Thus far, the budget includes roughly $138 million for new teachers, $83 million for salary increases and $500,000 for innovation to name a few.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the trend of reduced funding and increased requirements for school systems is beginning to make a turn for the better,” Leonard said. “ If this money actually reaches our school division and we can truly use it to benefit of our children and to take care of our dedicated employees, I will certainly turn a cartwheel.”