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Spotsylvania schools propose employees’ first raise since 2008

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The Spotsylvania County School Board approved the fiscal 2015 schools budget, which includes the first step raise for the division’s employees since 2008, with a 6-to-1 vote Monday evening.

The $275.4 million proposed 2015 schools budget sets aside $4.7 million in funds for the step increase and a 1 percent cost-of-living increase for staff.

The budget also maintains the current number of staff members for the first time in six years, according to Superintendent Scott Baker.

“We are really maintaining quality,” Baker said about not losing staff positions.

The 2015 schools budget is $1.9 million short of being fully funded. Staff hope to make up that unfunded portion, which represents an increase in retirement services, through increased state, local or federal funds. The School Board hopes to make that gap up by additional local funds.

Member Bill Blaine cast the sole dissenting vote. Blaine said he could not endorse the budget since he is apprehensive about the decisions that will need to be made if the budget gap is not funded.

“We need their [the supervisors’] assistance, and this budget reflects that,” board Chairman James Meyer said.

The shortfall, though, is the lowest since 2009, according to staff. It was made lower than originally projected because of increased enrollment funds from the state, deferring capital improvement projects and a smaller health care cost increase than was expected.

Budget drivers this year include the salary raises, benefits, special education costs and utility costs.

The superintendent’s budget proposal was passed by the School Board with little discussion.

Member Erin Grampp said she supported the budget “100 percent and I hope others will as well.”

The next step for the budget will be consideration by the Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors. The School Board will present its budget to the board next week, on Feb. 18.

Last year, the supervisors declined to provide an additional $3.2 million in local money for salary increases. The School Board then omitted the 2 percent cost-of-living raises originally sought for teachers in 2014.

The School Board sought to present the budget to the supervisors before that board advertises the real-estate tax rate this year. During the last budget cycle, the School Board was not able to do so.

Tax rates cannot be raised after they are advertised. The chief ways to provide additional funding for the school system are real estate or personal property taxes .

This year, the Board of Supervisors will advertise the tax rate on Feb. 25.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976