Schools receive funding from state

Published 12:42 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Members of the Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors voted to approve two resolutions to the Lunenburg County School Board that increases the school division’s total budget.

The resolutions didn’t require the county to provide any additional funding.

The first resolution acknowledged that the school division received $537,702 from the state for an increase in the estimated number of students who attended Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) for the school year 2018-2019.

The Average Daily Membership (ADM) records the estimated number of students who enroll in a given school year.

The estimated number was initially 1,409 students. LCPS exceeded the estimation by more 70 students, calculating 1,479 students who attended this school year.

The second resolution accounts for several grants the school division received that were not available during the FY2019 development process. The seven grants LCPS received total $37,752.63.

The allocations from the grants and the state bring the total FY2019 LCPS budget to $17,863,606.63.

Beaver Creek District Supervisor Frank Bacon asked Superintendent Charles Berkley and Assistant Superintendent James Abernathy what the school division plans to do with the $500,000 allocation.

Abernathy said Virginia government has approved a compensation settlement for $352,736 if LCPS provides a 5-percent raise to school staff between FY 2018-2020.

Abernathy said they were able to use a sizable amount of the ADM funding to bring LCPS staff members on a salary scale step, or pay grade that more accurately reflects their years of experience. Abernathy said the division froze a number of salary scales due to lack of funding.

A 2-percent salary increase was given to staff this year, and LCPS is in the process of finalizing a 3-percent increase for staff in order to reach the total 5 percent required by the state.

“This worked out quite well for us with an increase in our ADM and to be able to get our salary scales in line with the years of experience of our teachers and our staff members,” Abernathy said.

Bacon asked what would happen if LCPS did not get 1,479 students next year.

Abernathy and Berkley said they would set their estimate lower than 1,479 students.

“We feel like we’re projecting pretty conservative, 1,467 (students), based on our outgoing senior class and our incoming kindergarten class,” Abernathy said. “Of course you never know what’s going to happen in between classes. What happened this year is we had a whole lot more kids come in than what we had anticipated. But as it stands right now, we will have our kindergarten class outnumber our exiting senior class this year. So based on all of that, we still should be in very good shape.”

Berkley said the estimates are typically provided by Weldon Cooper UVA. While the estimates and actual results have been fairly consistent, he said two years ago the organization projected more students than LCPS ended up having. LCPS had nearly 1,450 when the projection was 1,480.

This year, LCPS had more students than was projected.

County Administrator Tracy Gee asked if the settlement would be a one-time payment. Abernathy said the settlement funding would continue.

Meherrin River District Supervisor Robert G. Zava asked how much of the $537,702 is being used for maintenance projects.

They are using approximately $280,000 of the $537,702 funding for maintenance projects and to put a portion into the textbook fund for new English textbooks. The amount spent on maintenance could increase depending on projections for the end of the year.

“Why wouldn’t we use the entire amount to get that step system where we need it to be?” Plymouth District Supervisor T. Wayne Hoover said. “Because I think you said there were still some teachers out there that still need to move.”

Berkley and Abernathy said it would cost $786,000 to bring all staff members into the right salary step in three phases.

Abernathy said the school division intends to set up phase two next year. Phase three would put the LCPS starting salary at $40,000, making it comparable to surrounding counties.