Superintendent pitches need for financial support at New Kent Supervisors’ budget retreat
A Friday morning meeting at the Providence Forge Recreation Center provided New Kent’s Board of Supervisors insight on what school leadership will face and need financially both in the immediate future and years to come.
Superintendent of Schools Brian Nichols began the day with information pertaining to Governor Ralph Northam’s intention to have all students back inside school buildings five days a week. Currently, COVID-19 restrictions limits the number of students on the bus as well as in the classrooms due to the recommendation of six-feet between students. The superintendent added that while there is a decline in elementary school students, enrollment with high school students are on the climb. Nichols also commented that he expects the pupil population to climb with elementary students once things are more settled.
The superintendent voiced to county leaders that his main concern is the number of available educators in the industry. According to Nichols, up to 27 percent of teachers could leave the profession when the pandemic comes to an end. Because of that, his proposed budget includes raises to keep current teachers, as well as funding for new positions. He also wants to accelerate pay raises as a way of retention for current employees. Among positions he’s looking to hire include two high school teachers, a middle school teacher, an additional high school counselor, additional preschool positions, a lead ITRT position, central office support staff, and offer contract extensions to literacy and math coordinators. He is also asking a one-percent increase for all staff, totaling $241,677.
Other costs include increases to tuition to Bridging Communities Career and Technical Center, Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, and Maggie Walker Governor’s School. Capital Improvement Plan requests include the purchase of six school buses, digital conversion, and replacement of HVAC equipment. In total, the CIP request equals $1,281,056. Additional costs expected include food service costs as well as providing funding for the new Quinton Elementary School to begin operations that include hiring and staffing of the school.
New Kent’s Board of Supervisors has currently budgeted $37,602,203 for the FY2021-22 school year. County leaders will continue to work on the budget after hearing comments from other departments with many of those messages asking for raises to remain competitive with neighboring jurisdictions.