Highland Schools Announce First Draft Of Budget
The month of March historically brings the arrival of many things – groundhogs, robins, visitors to the Maple Festival – and drafts of annual budgets. During Monday evening’s Highland County School Board’s March meeting, Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott presented his first blush of a budget for the upcoming year. He cautioned that this was a first look at the numbers, and noted many meetings and considerations would take place before a final draft was approved and presented to the Board of Supervisors.
Those numbers as they stand now call for increasing the school budget approximately $167,000, from roughly $4,294,000 to $4,462,000. This would require an increase in the county share of $83,000 – the total proposed county share is $2,353,000.
Dr. Schott urged that rather than just looking at the numbers, the bigger picture be considered as to the improvements and innovations happening in the school system, including culinary classes, radio club, STEM classes, athletics, music and band and more. He also pointed to the high success rate of Highland graduates, both in further education and full time employment.
He noted increases in revenue in a number of areas – however, these are more than offset by increases in expenditures, including a 39% increase in insurance costs and a 1.6% increase in Virginia Retirement System requirements. Those increases alone count for approximately $145,000. Those are also coupled with increases for textbooks, contracted services, and repair and maintenance. The increases in education also include $34,000 in teacher salaries, which combines a raise in starting salaries along with a revamped step system for salary increases. In an earlier action item, this step increase had been presented to the Board and tabled pending further review.
The Board will hold several upcoming meetings regarding the proposed budget, including work sessions on March 13th and 20th, and a public hearing on March 27th. All of these meetings will take place in the Highland High School library at 7:00 pm.