School Board Meeting Budget Update - February 21, 2017

During the School Board’s meeting on February 21, 2017, the Board held a public hearing on the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget for FY18. There were three people who spoke during the public hearing.

The Board also convened a budget work session as part of its regular meeting. During the work session, Schools Superintendent David Sovine and Executive Director of Finance Patty Camery provided answers to questions about the Superintendent’s FY18 Proposed Budget that were posed by Board members during the Board meeting on February 7, 2017. Mrs. Camery noted that a step movement on the administrator pay tables for FY18 would cost $249,000 and equates to a two percent salary increase. Mrs. Camery noted that if the funds needed to provide administrators with a step movement on existing scales were used to enhance the teacher pay table, the result would be an additional $170 annually or $14 per month per teacher. Such an approach would result in 102 administrators earning the same wage in FY18 as they do in FY17. This would result in a decrease in take home pay for those individuals in FY18 due to the projected increase in health insurance costs.

Mrs. Camery also noted the substantial difference in administrator salaries ($30,000 to $70,000) between Frederick County and Loudoun County as reported in an article published in the Loudoun Times-Mirror on January 26, 2017. Mrs. Camery stated that in some cases, an administrator in Frederick County could earn more working as a teacher in Prince William County. She added there is also a point in Frederick County where the administrator pay scale is not attractive for a teacher to leave the classroom to assume an administrative role. Dr. Sovine stressed the importance of offering competitive salaries to all staff in order to attract and retain high-quality staff and help ensure Frederick County Public Schools doesn’t become a “training ground” for larger divisions.

In response to a question regarding the number of staff members on a plan for improvement, Mrs. Camery shared there are currently three teachers and one support staff member on a plan for improvement. If those on a plan for improvement were deemed ineligible for a pay increase in FY18, the savings would be $5,250. In response to a question regarding the source of state funding that supports the Textbook Fund, Mrs. Camery shared that the Textbook Fund is supported by State Standards of Quality (SOQ) funding with a local required match through the Local Composite Index.

Mrs. Camery and Assistant Superintendent for Administration Al Orndorff provided an overview of the bus driver bonus program which is designed to encourage regular bus drivers to report to work each day because having the same driver on a route provides consistency for students and the regular driver has a more thorough knowledge of the route. The bus driver bonus program also helps reduce the need for substitute drivers. The bus driver bonuses are paid twice each year for two separate measurement periods--the beginning of school through the January payroll cutoff date and from the January payroll cutoff date through the end of the school year. Drivers attaining perfect attendance during a measurement period earn a $350 bonus. Drivers missing no more than two days during a measurement period earn a $200 bonus. Eighty-two drivers received the perfect attendance bonus and 53 received the other attendance bonus for the measurement period ending December 31, 2016, at a total cost of $39,300.

Mrs. Camery provided an update on the budgets under consideration in the House of Delegates and State Senate. She noted that more detailed information is expected within the next week. Mrs. Camery also reviewed the three budget scenarios reviewed by the Frederick County Finance Committee during its meeting on February 15, 2017. She stated that the options would provide the school division with between $1.8 million and $4.7 million in additional operating revenue. In addition, one of the options would provide the school division with an additional $2.6 million for capital needs. The other two options would provide no additional funds for capital needs.

Back Creek District Board Member Kali Klubertanz suggested that if the Board is in a position to provide employees with a pay increase in FY18, the increase not be extended to employees who are on a plan for improvement. School Board Chairman John Lamanna noted the Board would need to discuss Mrs. Klubertanz’s perspective regarding salary increases.