No additional funds will find their way into Albemarle County Public Schools’ FY15 budget.
During a Wednesday discussion in which the school division asked local government for one-time money, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors voted three times against the request.
“This would have been helpful, we’ve got some things that are pretty important for the schools, but we already knew what our budget was going to be, so this would have been additional, but not necessarily expected,” said Pam Moran, the school division’s Superintendent.
Last week, the schools agreed to ask the Board of Supervisors for an infusion of one-time cash to restore initiatives it feels are essential to the division’s strategic plan. Due to the $3.9 million in cuts the schools made earlier this year, School Board Chair Ned Gallaway said, the strategic plan saw 75 percent of its priorities impacted.
In the Supervisors May 7 request, the schools provided a list of the types of uses to which one-time funds could be applied. The $1.28 million list included:
- $300,000 for professional development restoration
- $550,000 for Design 2015, the division’s innovation fund
- $150,000 for learning resources, such as textbooks and classroom materials
- $45,000 for a switch to a paperless evaluation software system
- $50,000 for interpreter services
- $190,000 for the Safe Schools Healthy Students grant
Staff recommended that any allocations be taken from the now-audited FY13 fund balance. A portion of each year’s fund balance is directed into the Capital Improvement Program. Supervisor Liz Palmer expressed concern about removing that large a sum from the fund balance, as doing so would ultimately take from the CIP.
“We have only been doing maintenance projects for the last five to six years, pretty much on that CIP, so depending on how you look at the CIP, many would say that we have a backlog,” Palmer said. “Whatever we take out of the CIP, we’re extending other things on to other years, and some of those are school projects.”
County Executive Tom Foley said Albemarle is anticipating a $6.2 million CIP balance at the end of five years. The recently-adopted FY15 budget shows a five-year balance of $3.7 million, but Foley said local government is anticipating another $2.5 million, which arose from the FY13 audit.
After this clarification, McKeel again motioned to allocate $1.28 million, but again the motion failed 2-4, with only her and Sheffield voting in favor.
Throughout the one-time money conversation, the School Board maintained that it is their responsibility as elected officials to determine how any additional funds would be used.
“The commitment is that we would be spending it on one-time expenditures,” Gallaway said, adding that the School Board hadn’t voted to prioritize the initiatives on the list.
Dittmar said that reluctance to allow the Supervisors to determine how one-time funds would have been used kept her from voting for the allocation.
“For me, I think it’s time for the School Board to give us permission to figure out where we would like to put some more money,” Dittmar said, adding that this is a conversation for the board-to-board retreat.
“Maybe we could come up with some way when it’s post-period for us to work a little more closely on some specifics things, because there’s some things on there that I really like, but not knowing that it would go there, I can’t go along with anything, and I’m so sorry,” Dittmar added.
The School Board will meet next on Thursday, May 22.