School board weighs special levy rate & state revenue loss
The Morgan County School Board is considering this year’s special levy rate in the face of increased expenditures and decreased state aid due to declining enrollment.
The school board was scheduled to decide whether to keep the proposed special levy rate at 93.8% or raise it at last night’s meeting. The special levy rate will be formally approved at their April 16 meeting.
At the March 14 budget workshop, School Treasurer Nancy White gave school board members figures for special levy rates at the current 93.8% rate, 95%, 98% and 100% with the projected revenue from each.
She also showed the amount of further reduced expenditures and options of the depletion of their capital projects fund or transfer of monies from it that would be needed to balance the budget with each levy rate.
Personnel reductions and proposed budget cuts in school allocations, sick pay incentive, summer maintenance projects and other items have already been entered into the budget for the coming school year.
The budget is scheduled to be formally approved after a public hearing on May 7.
It will be published for public notification beforehand.
As of March 14, the proposed general current expense fund expenditures for Fiscal Year 2014 were $24,005,506, a difference of $429,691 from the estimated $23,575,815 revenue. White and Banks were still making budget cuts on Monday to present to the board at their meeting last night.
White’s preliminary state aid computations showed that the total state aid projected for Fiscal Year 2014 would decrease $201,206.
Her estimated revenue for the general current expense account for Fiscal Year 2014 was $23,575,815, some $511,204 less revenue than last year’s budget. Expenditures were up $117,881 from last year, White said.
The capital projects fund was placed at $261,910 and the special revenue fund was estimated at $4,105,128, although the special revenue figures are still preliminary. Special revenue funds are federal and state monies that can only be used for specifically designated purposes.
White said there was great uncertainty about the revenue from Medicaid reimbursements and child nutrition as well as the increased costs for special needs students.
Personnel costs had increased. The good news was that more teachers were staying on, but that also meant their salaries grew with every added year of teaching and additional earned degree, Banks said.
Some expenses such as health insurance premiums, professional contracted services, fuel and electricity had also risen.
They were trying to make some cuts in this year’s budget since they were now over budget. White said they’d started out with a balanced budget, but had to add in seven and a half aides, a bus driver and additional nursing services for special needs students that came into the school system this year.
Personnel over the formula
The school system is 21.93 total professional positions over the state aid formula and 14.37 service positions over the formula, White said.
Professional personnel include classroom teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses. Some 1.86 of the total professional positions over the limit were school nurses and counselors.
Class sizes are mandated by the state for elementary grades. For some grades, the number of students can’t go over a maximum set limit. Other grades can have up to three extra students, but the teacher is paid an additional rate for each child over the pupil-teacher ratio, she said.
Morgan County Schools pays the full salaries and benefits for personnel over the state aid formula.
Enrollment, cost per pupil
Enrollment in Morgan County Schools is now at 2,572 students and has been declining steadily since the 2007-2008 school year when it was around 2,720 students.
The cost per pupil figures are Paw Paw High School-$12,522: Paw Paw Elementary- $11,813; Greenwood Elementary-$11,434; Pleasant View Elementary-$8,685; Berkeley Springs High School-$8,564; Warm Springs Middle School-$8,550; Warm Springs Intermediate School-$8,424; and Widmyer Elementary-$7,655.
The average cost per pupil for Morgan County Schools is $8,624.
An assistant principal position at Berkeley Springs High School is being reduced half-time. The remaining half of the position is being combined with a halftime county attendance director position for a fulltime position.
Two fulltime special education aides are being cut at Paw Paw Schools.
One sixth grade teaching position is being eliminated at Warm Springs Middle School due to retirement.
A special education teacher at Warm Springs Intermediate School is being reduced (transfer) along with a fulltime aide/autism mentor due to lack of need.
Greenwood Elementary is being cut a halftime special education teacher and a halftime custodian.
Widmyer Elementary is being cut a fulltime second grade teacher and a halftime custodian. (Transfer) One custodial position will cover both Greenwood and Widmyer Elementary, White said.
Pleasant View Elementary is being cut a .4 Title 1 teaching position due to changes in Title 1 rankings for county schools. Greenwood and Pleasant View will share a Title 1 teacher.
Central office cuts are eliminating a halftime attendance director, reducing the social worker position from 261 to 215 days and reducing a halftime hearing and vision impaired teacher.
Warm Springs Intermediate School will need three additional professional positions due to students moving through the school system and larger grades.
Berkeley Springs High School social studies teacher Scott Lynch asked the board to consider paying the daily rate for teachers that have to attend the Advanced Placement summer institute, which is mandatory training for teachers that offer Advanced Placement classes. American Federation of Teachers representatives asked Lynch to speak at the budget workshop.
Teachers are required to be recertified every three years for Advanced Placement classes or the class will close, Lynch said. He was concerned that it could be a domino effect if some teachers chose not to go if they weren’t paid their normal daily rate.
Morgan County Schools supplemental salary schedule offers a maximum of $150 per day for summer workshop/Academy participants. White said if Advanced Placement teachers are paid by their hourly rate that the costs could range from $150 to $250 a day for their summer institute.
Lynch said it was a four-day training in either Morgantown or Charleston and that an extra day for travel since the workshops began at 8 a.m.
Superintendent Banks said he was cautious about adding this request to the budget. It had been made for the Teacher’s Institute, now it’s the Advanced Placement institute-what’s next, he asked.