School Board cuts county request in half in final budget

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By Randy Arrington

Final amendments and passage of the General Assembly’s biennium budget on March 12 will result in more state funds for Page County.

The state’s allocation for local schools in the next fiscal year will total $24.3 million, according to the “current direct aid template from the state,” Dr. Wendy Gonzales said.

That’s the most Page Schools have ever received from the state in one budget cycle. That has resulted in a reduction of the amount being requested by the local school division from county coffers.

“The reason [the local request] is lower is because the amendments to the 2020-2022 [state budget] adopted by the General Assembly on March 12 shows additional revenue from the state,” Superintendent Gonzales stated. “There was no adjustment to the ADM.”

The ADM reflects student enrollment, which state funding is largely based on.

Page County Public Schools will now be requesting an additional $299,642 from the Page County Board of Supervisors for its operations in the next budget cycle.

In February, that figure stood at $590,444.

The Page County School Board adopted the final budget at its March 30 meeting.

The supervisors are advertising no changes to tax rates in the county. This means that while supervisors may still lower rates before adoption of the final FY21 budget, but they can not raise tax rates any higher once advertised.

The schools total budget stands at just over $43 million, with a projected operating budget of $41.3 million and nearly $2 million earmarked for the food services program. 

Food services are typically separated from the operating budget, with about 54 percent of the funding coming from federal sources. The remaining funds are made up though state allocations and cafeteria collections.

During last year’s budget cycle, Page County Schools initially requested $1.6 million more from the supervisors — an 11.4-percent increase to the then-$14 million local contribution to schools. The supervisors ultimately agreed to an increase of $304,000 — or 2.2 percent — for the current school year.

The request for FY21 represents about a 2-percent increase.

A public hearing and vote on the county tax rates is set for Tuesday, April 7. County officials are planning to livestream the meeting.

Overall, expenses for the total 2020-21 fiscal year county budget are projected at just over $69 million, a 2.3-percent increase (or $1.6 million) over the current fiscal year projected to end June 30 at $67.5 million.

A public hearing for both the school and county budget is scheduled for April 21, with final adoption scheduled for May 5. 

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