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Fort Lewis Elementary School is slated to remain open in a budget proposed to the school board Thursday by Superintendent Lorraine Lange.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
No full-time employees will lose their jobs and Fort Lewis Elementary School will remain open next school year, according to the proposed Roanoke County Schools budget.
During a work session Thursday evening, Superintendent Lorraine Lange shared her proposed budget with board members, who will vote on it next week. Lange noted that since 2008 the school system has seen its funding shrink by about $14 million.
“We’ve learned to do with less,” she said.
Her proposal includes a series of cuts and no raises for staffers, but does keep Fort Lewis open for the 2013- 14 school year. Lange told Fort Lewis teachers in August that closing the school was a possibility. It was estimated that closing it would save $450,000 annually after the first year.
But Lange said Thursday that Fort Lewis is a community school and that officials said they would work to keep it open and did.
Last year Lange said if she had to choose between saving jobs and closing a school, she would choose a school. Her budget proposal presented Thursday does cut jobs, but through retirements.
The proposal includes the elimination of some teaching and central office positions through retirements, reductions in adult education, and cuts to career and technical education. The proposal also posts savings through locking in fuel prices and outsourcing some custodial work. It also shows the loss of some federal funds through sequestration.
The budget does propose covering the cost of health insurance increases for employees through reserve funds, but does not include raises, which has been a source of discussion among Roanoke Valley education leaders in recent weeks.
The state budget includes funds for the state’s share of a 2 percent pay raise for some school employees. Local school systems would have to fund their share and officials are wrestling with whether they can find the funds to match.
In Roanoke County, officials gave educators raises last year and unsuccessfully lobbied lawmakers in Richmond to take that into account. Lange said Thursday she even wrote a letter to the governor’s office but did not get a reply.
The budget proposal outlined Thursday also shows the school system should receive a $621,867 increase in funds from the county under a revenue-sharing formula.
But Penny Hodge, the school system’s assistant superintendent of finance, noted that figure could change. Last year, the county didn’t follow the revenue-sharing formula. Hodge also said the county’s real estate assessments are down and officials don’t have final figures on property and business license taxes yet.
Officials, who appeared poised to approve the budget, plan to vote on it March 14.
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