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Caroline finally approves school budget

The school budget for the new fiscal year has finally been approved by both the Caroline Board of Supervisors and the School Board.

It was held up because the school division was unsure of how much state funding it would receive after the General Assembly delayed approving a state budget.

Previously, the supervisors approved the same funding level as the 2014 fiscal year for the school system so that it could continue to operate on July 1.

On Tuesday, the board approved giving the school system an additional $1.3 million on top of that—which is the amount that was originally allocated to them in initial budget discussions.

Of the $1.3 million, about $630,000 comes from the state, $364,000 from the county, and another $267,000 in federal and state grants.

The total budget for the school division is $42,504,006. Of that, $37,884,658 is for operating expenses and about $4,619,348 is for special funds. The county allocated a total of $12,117,383 for the school division, not counting an additional $25 million for the school renovation projects.

The budget includes a step increase for the county’s teachers and a 4 percent raise for support staff, which includes bus drivers, teachers aides, nurses and others. The two panels began discussions at the joint meeting Tuesday about how to fix the salary scale that School Board members say isn’t competitive with surrounding counties.

At the joint meeting Tuesday, the two boards also discussed the Madison Elementary renovation project.

On July 17, the school division received eight bids from contractors to do the construction, and the lowest bid came in at $5.2 million, which is higher than initially anticipated. The School Board planned for the renovations to cost about $4 million. Another $21 million was estimated to make renovations at Caroline High School.

Because the bids came in over budget, the School Board decided in a second, separate meeting to send the bids to the school division’s Capital Improvement Committee to review and evaluate.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413

This story has been corrected from an earlier version.