LCPS seeks more funds

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors is facing the prospect of raising taxes to provide a funding increase being sought by Lunenburg County Public Schools.

During a meeting of the two boards on Thursday, school Superintendent Charles M. Berkley Jr. said the system has no choice but to seek an increase in funding of $342,000 to balance the system’s budget.

Berkley is proposing two budgets — one for a total of $17.2 million that calls for the county to take over the system’s debt services, another for $16.9 million that includes a 2 percent raise for staff.

Until recently, Berkley said, school officials thought they were going to get just under $400,000 more funding from the state, but now realize that the state funding is based on enrollment figures that the system doesn’t expect to meet, and includes restrictions that would provide raises for only a handful of staff.

If the money set aside for it isn’t used for raises, it will return to the state, Berkley said.

The system has had to endure a loss of approximately $280,000 this year because enrollment was projected to be approximately 1,522 students, but it instead ended up at just 1,500 students, Berkley said.

“We had a lot of people to leave the county,” Berkley said.

Various funding sources are tied to the number of students, and each student represents approximately $10,000, Berkley said.

School officials are projecting enrollment to be 1,480 students next year.

Berkley said there is nowhere else to cut in the budget.

“We have made barebones cuts,” he said. “There’s just nothing there.”

The state provides most of the system’s money, and the county now provides 19 percent of its funds — a significant drop from the 23.5 percent it provided in 2000, Berkley noted.

Meanwhile, Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover noted that providing the $342,000 that the school system says is necessary means a 4 cent tax increase.

“That’s how we have to look at it,” Hoover said. “That’s where the money would be coming from.”

Fellow Supervisor Alvester L. Edmonds agreed that the system does need money, noting, “We need to figure out what we can do.”

The supervisors will hold their next meeting 10 a.m. Thursday, April 14, at Central High School.