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Richmond County public school funding at risk

Posted on Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Every year counties and the agencies they oversee come to loggerheads over one thing: funding.
With increases in expenditures and the need for necessary new equipment, training or personnel, many departments have plead their case for the upcoming fiscal year for increases in the necessary funding they each need to best serve Richmond County’s taxpayers.
Often, those requests are met with hard questions and then continued over to work sessions by members for investigation and further study.
On March 13, Richmond County School Superintendent Greg Smith presented a level budget equal to fiscal year 2013-2014, however he was met with not only those same questions but also a threat to cut the schools’ local funding despite the district’s standing as the best educational program in the region.
This year’s requested appropriation of $5,396,230 exactly matched the year prior.
It included a decrease in federal revenue funds of $36,080 offset by a much higher increase in expected state funds of $7,226,423, or $540,348 more than the previous year due to a decrease in the overall county composition index, which slightly dropped putting the district in line for additional state support.
“Sometimes we forget the fact that we are not in a tunnel and we have to look at the bigger picture,” Smith said, later adding that rural areas like the Northern Neck have been slower to catch up to increases in the growing economies of larger cities.
Smith also noted that with the careful addition of out-of-county students,  the student population has increased by approximately 50 to 60 students.
After being questioned by District 4 Supervisor Bobby Pemberton as to whether those additional students incurred any additional fees or required an increase in staff, Smith replied “No.”
“In fact, because of our balanced process we are receiving an additional $5,800 in state funds for each of those students at no additional cost to the school,” Smith said in a March 24 interview, adding that spread over the 13 grade levels, there was an average increase of two students per classroom.
“It does not interfere with any programs nor does it decrease from any tutelage,” Smith said.
During the earlier budget meeting, Smith proposed that…

-Read the full story in this week’s Northern Neck News, on stands now!