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