$106M: School board adopts 2013-14 budget

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By Tom Wilmoth

    Adding more than $2 million to School Superintendent Dr. Douglas Schuch’s proposal, the Bedford County School Board approved a $106.1 million 2013-14 budget last Thursday—a budget members stressed that asks from the county supervisors only the same amount of funding that it received locally for the current budget.
    The revised budget requests $41.5 million in local funding from the county and includes $1.73 million to be set aside for future debt service payments, which will include construction of a new middle school in the Liberty Zone, expected to cost in excess of $30 million.
    The school board added an additional eight positions to its revised budget at a cost of $400,000 with each county school that is currently Accredited with Warning by the state receiving one of those positions. Dr. Schuch’s budget also included seven new positions for the county’s secondary schools which will help bring down the student-to-teacher ratio in the middle and high schools.
    The budget approved by the school board also includes $204,000 to go towards creating full-time nursing positions in all county schools. Currently the elementary schools only have part-time nurses.
    The board retained Dr. Schuch’s proposal for a 3 percent raise for all school employees as well as funding to offset any increases to health insurance premiums.
    The board, on a 4-4 vote, decided to leave in funding for stipends for certified math teachers. Those opposing the stipend questioned whether it would be enough to make a difference and also were against singling out one subject area for the stipend.
    The board failed to support a proposal to fund six new slots for county students at the Central Virginia Governor’s School next year, a total of 12 in the following year. Currently the school system has 40 slots at CVGS and 17 at the Roanoke Valley Governor’s School. Adding six slots for the upcoming year would have cost $25,000; $50,000 in the years following that.
    Added to the budget, however, was $48,000 to help offset county students’ tuition who attend Early College at Central Virginia Community College in Bedford. That passed on another 4-4 vote. A split vote on whether to include a new preschool program also ended in that proposal being left in Dr. Schuch’s proposed budget.
    Board Chairman Gary Hostutler said about $2.5 million of the $6 million in new money the school board is receiving as a result of the city of Bedford’s reversion to town status—resulting in the county assuming control of all of the schools and students—is going towards future debt and upkeep of Bedford Middle School and Bedford Elementary School.
    Though split on a number of 4-4 votes on specific budget issues, board members ultimately unanimously approved the overall budget.
    Ultimately the board of supervisors will have the final say on the local funding amount and, should that be reduced, the school board will have to amend its budget. The supervisors will approve the entire county budget in April.