A Closer Look: Superintendent’s Estimate of Needs

Superintendent Dr. James Merrill presented his Estimate of Needs this week to the Virginia Beach School Board, which outlined his plan to balance the operating budget for the 2013-14 school year.

In his presentation, Merrill outlined the financial outlook for the upcoming school year. Given increasing health care and utility costs as well as a still slow-going local economy, the school division initially faced a shortfall of $32 million.

However, the school division was able to decrease that shortfall to just under $16 million by pulling $14 million from the division’s savings and an additional $2 million from the city’s Sandbridge TIF.

To fill that hole, Merrill made the following recommendations:

  • Raising class sizes in grades 6-12 by increasing the ratio used to determine class size by .25. This will save $1.7 million.
  • Freezing all vacant central office positions, with a potential cut of six to 10 positions. This will save $302,000
  • Cutting all non-personnel budgets by 5 percent. This will save $3.5 million

Additionally, Dr. Merrill shared  several cost-saving measures  will help save money:

  • A reduction to the budget due to more retirement of veteran employees than projected and hiring of newer employees. This saved $5.4 million
  • A reduction to the budget due to a higher decrease in enrollment than projected, which means lower costs. This saved $3.8 million
  • The implementation of the new hybrid high school schedule, which will go into effect next school year, will save $1.1 million

These recommendations from Dr. Merrill are just the beginning of the budget decision process, which will not be completed until City Council approves an operating budget in May.

For up to date developments on the VBCPS budget, visit the Lowdown on Your School Dollars webpage

4 thoughts on “A Closer Look: Superintendent’s Estimate of Needs

  1. Dr. Merrill,
    Why doesn’t the school system look into alternative energy to replace the need to pay the utility bills? I know that we have one of the best environmental programs in the entire country, so this would be the next logical step. In just 5 years through the implementation of solar panels on all of the schools, we could be a school system that is energy independent and save millions of dollars, possibly even having the electric company paying us. As a teacher and a parent I feel that this is something we should look into very earnestly.

    Thank you.

    • Mr. Egan,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts on alternative engery and for reading The Core. I will make sure to share your insight with Dr. Merrill as well as our division leaders who are involved with our sustainable schools initiatives.

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