County School Board Approves Final 2012-2013 Budget

Includes 3% raise for employees in addition to VRS “hold harmless” pay increase

The Roanoke County School Board approved the 2012-2013 budget at their meeting April 26, 2012.  The General Fund budget for 2012-13 reflects revenues based on aid for education in the General Assembly budget released on April 19, 2012 via the State Superintendent. The General Fund budget of $132,562,485 reflects an increase of $1,189,215 or 0.9% more than the preceding year.

“I’m pleased with this budget and I’m very thankful for the continued support of the Roanoke County Board of Supervisors,” said Roanoke County School Board Chairman Fuzzy Minnix.  “I’m pleased we were able to give our employees a well-deserved raise, we were able to avoid layoffs of full-time contracted employees and we did not need to close any schools.  This has been a difficult, frustrating year.  A great deal of work has gone into this budget,” said Minnix.

“This is a good budget.  Fortunately, we were able to receive additional funding from the state that helped us afford raises.  We are still making some painful cuts, though, and we will still maintain a hiring freeze,” said Roanoke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lorraine Lange.

The School Board is required by state code to adopt an annual school budget by April 1 of each year. Despite the fact that the General Assembly had not yet adopted a state budget, the School Board adopted a school budget at their meeting on March 27, 2012 in accordance with this provision. Since that time, the General Assembly has passed a state budget which is expected to be approved by the Governor in the next few weeks. The 2012-13 school budget approved on March 27, 2012 has been revised to reflect the final state aid for education and the Superintendent’s recommendations to balance the budget.

The proposed budget does not include school closings or layoffs of full-time contracted employees. It moves the technology plan purchases out of the operating budget and into grant, minor capital, or year-end balance funding sources in order to free up operating money to offset a portion of the increase in VRS rates. This budget continues the hiring freeze and many positions that are being voluntarily vacated through resignation or retirement will not be filled next year in order to balance the budget.

The largest impact on the school budget for next year is the significant increase in VRS retirement related expenditures and the change in the laws governing the VRS retirement plan. For the first time since the early 1980’s, all school employees will be required to contribute 5% of their pay into the Virginia Retirement System. This legislation also requires School Boards to provide an offsetting salary adjustment to school employees.

To that end, the General Fund budget reflects salary and benefit adjustments including the following:

– Salaries have been frozen for three years. This proposed budget includes a 3% cost of living increase for next year.

– Health and dental insurance premiums will remain the same for 2012-13.

– The VRS retirement rate will increase from 6.33% to 11.66%. (Net of the 5% employee contribution.)

– All full-time school employees will be required to contribute 5% of salary as the employee share of the VRS premium effective July 1, 2012.

– The School Board is required to provide an offsetting salary adjustment per this legislation. (Also known as the “5 for 5 swap.”) This budget includes a salary offset of 5.75% and the related employer payroll costs on the salary adjustment.

– The deferred compensation matching program has been suspended and no new participants will be enrolled.