Kingsport Times-News: Wise County School Board gets a draft budget
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Wise County School Board gets a draft budget

Mike Still • Apr 10, 2019 at 3:30 PM

WISE — Wise County School Board members got their first look at firm state revenue numbers Tuesday in a draft 2019-2020 budget.

School system Finance Director Beth Shupe presented the draft based on finalized state basic aid funding of $18.88 million and a planned request of $11.87 million from the Wise County Board of Supervisors during a budget workshop.

The state basic aid funding represents almost $718,000 less than received for the current fiscal year, Shupe said, while the upcoming county funds request is unchanged from this year’s level.

Total state, federal and local funds would put $60.41 million into the school system budget, according to an information sheet Shupe gave board members.

Shupe later explained that the potential local fund request included a state-mandated minimum $6.21 million local contribution. Other local-share matches required by the state include state retirement system contributions, textbook funds, special education program funds and state lottery fund shares for some educational programs in the school system.

Shupe said the draft budget also incorporates several recommendations made to the board in March, including a 2 percent pay hike for teachers to match state funds for a total 5 percent teacher salary increase. That item would be funded with $1.154 million in state salary initiative money.

The budget draft also includes the school system absorbing the $200,000 cost of a scheduled 1.6 percent increase in employees’ Anthem health insurance plan.

Also built into the draft are salary step increases for school bookkeepers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, maintenance and janitorial personnel and central office staff, Shupe told the board.

Six school buses are also targeted for replacement under the budget proposal, Superintendent Greg Mullins told the board. Five are at least 20 years old with mileage between 156,000 and 187,000, he said. The sixth bus, a 2004 model, suffers from corrosion damage and has 189,000 miles on it.

Mullins told the board that he would be meeting with County Administrator Mike Hatfield to ask about increased county funding for school capital projects. Current projects include paving and fence repair at six schools, gym and baseball field repairs at five, asbestos removal at two, roof repair at one, carpet replacement at seven and door replacement at four.

The school system’s three-year capital project plan calls for repair or replacement of two HVAC heating/cooling units at Coeburn Middle and J.W. Adams Combined schools and new roofs at Wise Primary and J.W. Adams schools.

Shupe said she and staff are trying to finalize details for a revised salary step scale for principals and assistant principals. Board Chairman Larry Greear asked if a scale could be ready in time for a budget workshop later in April. Shupe and Mullins said they would have something to include in a revised draft.

The board voted unanimously to schedule an April 22 5 p.m. budget workshop at the system’s Education Building on Lake Street. Mullins said that would give enough time to prepare a new draft for a public hearing on April 24 at 5 p.m. at the same meeting place.

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