New Kent school board makes pitch for additional $100,000 to county supervisors
With a differentiation of $100,000 between New Kent School Board’s budget and the county’s recommended contribution of local funds in 2018-19, both parties sat down Thursday morning (Feb. 22) to discuss the upcoming financial support.
The school board and New Kent Board of Supervisors convened as part of the budget retreat at Providence Forge Recreation Center.
Superintendent of schools Dave Myers presented the proposed budget to county leaders. In total, a recommendation of $30,919,172 is requested for that 2018-19 fiscal year. Of that amount, $14,354,595 is a request from county revenue, a $400,000 increase. County Administrator Rodney Hathaway recommended a contribution of $14,254,595 from the county in his budget presentation, $100,000 less than the school’s request.
Myers said that the $100,000 makes a big difference, especially with an Average Daily Membership (ADM) expected to consist of 3,150 students next year.
“As you can see, we are recommending adding five teachers,” Myers explained to the board of supervisors. “Three teachers will be added at the middle school while the other two will be added to the elementary school.”
After being asked by board of supervisors chairman and District 1 representative Thomas Evelyn what the schools would do if they didn’t receive the additional $100,000, Myers said they have looked at a number of possibilities.
“We would probably have to remove one of the teachers,” the superintendent said. “Along with attrition we could probably make that up, but we have been cutting other items as well and have to reach a greater figure due to fluctuating numbers in healthcare and a number of other factors.”
District 2 school board representative Kristen Swynford commented about the perspective she receives as both an elected official and a parent.
“I am always receiving feedback from parents and they have a lot of questions they ask me,” she said. “They ask me questions such as ‘Why can’t we get this foreign language or have sign language?’ or ‘Why can’t we add counselors?’
“I received those questions and many more when I attended the rising sixth-grader meeting this past weekend,” she told county leaders.
District 5 and school board chairwoman Gail Hardinge echoed Myers sentiment about the changes New Kent’s school system has endured, especially with the increased enrollment.
“We’re over the top when it comes with our numbers at the elementary school,” she said, pointing to conversations she had that said 700 students at one elementary school was a critical point. “We are nearing 800 students at both schools and the teacher shortage is huge throughout the state.
“New Kent use to be the training ground for teachers looking to get one to five years of experience,” Hardinge continued. “But now, that’s not the case any more. We are growing in the number of students we have and the teachers who want to come here.
“If we have to make cuts, they will really be cuts,” the chairwoman said as she began to wrap up her statement. “But we wanted the board of supervisors to know the impact of that.”
New Kent’s School Board public hearing on their proposed budget is tentatively scheduled for Mar. 5. County leaders will continue budget discussion at their Feb. 28 work session.