The Caroline County School Board voted unanimously to adopt a $42.5 million dollar operating budget for the 2018-19 school year (FY 2019) at it’s school board meeting on June 13, 2018. The budget will utilize an increase in revenue of roughly $1.5 million to address several school division priorities, including a year 1 (of 3) implementation of the compensation plan. The County transferred an additional $400,000 for school operations and $74,523 for capital bus purchases and bus leases above the FY18 county transfer for a total of $14.25M. The FY19 budget also includes additional state revenue of $0.5M of which $0.3M are state grants. Additionally, the budget includes a one time use of insurance refund dollars in the amount of $300,000 to offset a portion of the cost associated with a rise in insurance premiums for the 2018-19 plan year.
The school system underwent a compensation study in March 2018 which identified 46 of the school divisions classifications (80.7 percent) as being below the market minimum. The FY19 budget includes a phased approach to the recommendations of the compensation study and the school division is implementing one-third of the compensation plan for teachers and support staff. The compensation changes will increase the starting teacher salary for FY19 to $40,600, an increase of 3.5% percent over the previous year.
The FY19 budget also includes an additional position for the expansion of the nursing program in the Career & Technical program. The position was required by the Board of Nursing to accommodate a greater number of students into the new Nursing Assistant Program at Caroline High School. Students who complete the program will be immediately eligible for employment in the healthcare field and are eligible to continue their training in the field of nursing at a post-secondary institution. The program will accept its first students in August and will be supported by partnerships with Bowling Green Health and Rehabilitation Center and Germanna Community College.
In order to pass a balanced budget the school division eliminated 7 positions through attrition made adjusted cuts to the budget across all operational categories. The reduced staffing was possible due to a declining student enrollment over the past four years.
The school division budget will need to increase a minimum of 2% each of the next two years to the operational budget in order to raise employee compensation to the recommended levels of the compensation study. The County conducted a similar compensation study for County employees in 2017. Recommendations from the study were implemented in 2017 and the current fiscal year.