Rappahannock schools propose a smaller budget for FY18

Gary R. Blair, the interim superintendent for Rappahannock County Public Schools, is requesting a fiscal 2018 schools budget of $12,641,062 — some $11,000 less than the current FY17 budget.

However, while the school system is asking for fewer dollars, Rappahannock County’s 72 percent funding share of the proposed FY18 budget would increase by $13,452 over the current fiscal year.

Gary R. Blair, the interim superintendent for County Public Schools, making his budget presentation to the school board Tuesday night at the RCHS auditorium.

Among future budget priorities is a proposed 2 percent increase in teacher salaries, although Blair said they “deserve 5 percent.” He said while he regrets it, the schools’ central office employees would not see a raise under the proposal.

In making his budget presentation to the school board Tuesday night, Blair noted a projected decrease of $44,638 in federal funding for Rappahannock’s schools in 2018. But the drop in federal funds — from $587,783 this year to $543,145 in FY18 (4.3 percent of the schools’ annual budget) — coincided he said with fewer special needs students attending Rappahannock schools.

Projected state funding (24 percent of the budget) would increase in FY18 by almost $24,000 — to $2,966,066.

The proposed FY18 budget is built on an average of 870 students attending the county’s public schools, down 30 students from two years ago.

Blair, who was appointed interim superintendent following the resignation earlier this year of superintendent Donna O. Matthews, told the board that the basis for his budget surrounded “stewardship.”

“These resources must be used not only to support our mission, but to enhance, expand and preserve the tradition of excellence while we remain vigilant to ensure the cost is in the appropriate relationship to the value,” Blair stated in his budget presentation. “Stewardship is the care we take and the steadfast commitment to the proper expenditure of public funds.”

Blair joined the Rappahannock school system in September 2014 as head of human resources. For four years, until 2012, he was division superintendent for Buckingham County (Va.) Public Schools.

He said the proposed FY18 budget would see to the “preservation of high standards” within the schools, including strong academics, technology integration, high-quality teachers, student-teacher ratio, recruitment and retention, full accreditation, and sense of community.

The public will have at least two more opportunities to weigh-in on the FY18 budget proposal: on March 28 at 7 p.m. and April 24 at 7 p.m., both hearings at the elementary school.

In other news, the school board said it plans to receive by May 19 all applications to fill the school superintendent post and then begin interviewing candidates in June.

In addition, thanks to the practically snowless winter, the board announced that students will receive an extra day off for spring break, April 12, while the last day of school will now be May 19.

Documents from the meetings are available at boarddocs.com/vsba/rcpsva/Board.nsf/Public.

An unedited video of the School Board 6 p.m. session on Tuesday, March 21 can be found online at rappnews.com/video, or on the newspaper’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/RappNewsPlus

About John McCaslin 467 Articles
John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at editor@rappnews.com.