Last night, the Board of Supervisors held several public budget hearings, including the tax rate, the budget, and the Capital Improvement Plan (buildings, maintenance, repairs, etc.). The good news is that the BoS is committed to funding Dr. Taylor’s proposed salary increases. However, the BoS is not committed to fully funding the School Board’s budget request (see 1:51:34 in the video of their meeting) Dr. Taylor’s request for additional funds consisted of raises for licensed and non-licensed staff, and an additional 12M to essentially “keep the lights on”–do exactly what we did this year, with 600 more kids (projected growth for next year). The BoS has voiced support for this. However, the School Board added these two important items to the final budget request, and they’re what the BoS is saying “no” to. Dr. Taylor’s detailed description of these line items, as presented to the BoS, can be viewed beginning at 55:15 in this video).

Materials and supplies: 1.35M for classroom supplies (to be distributed needs-based by school)–this is what Dr. T would tackle if he could, because we are “nickel and diming” our parents with school supply lists. We all know the unfortunate reality–educators end up buying supplies for their own classrooms.

Capital Outlay: 2M for maintenance and repairs. This will help build the 3R fund over time and allow us to get to some of the bigger maintenance issues in our schools. Good budgeting practice would have us keeping roughly 2% of our assets in savings for repairs and maintenance (3R projects). This would be about 15M-20M every year. However, up till now these things have not been funded through the budget, rather taken out of debt service. It makes much more sense to add small chunks to the operating budget and grow our 3R fund over time. Dr. Taylor stated this would be the responsible solution, and “honor our commitment to taking care of the assets that we have”.

Funding the school is about a lot more than pay increases. Stafford County ranks 118 out of 132 divisions in per-pupil-expenditures, despite being among the wealthiest counties in the country. If we want to see real change in our division, the BoS needs to begin investing in schools again. We cannot continue to do more, with less.

The county administrator’s budget is based on a tax rate of 88.5 percent, which would result in a roughly $37.50 monthly increase for the average homeowner. While we’ve been assured the Superintendent’s budget (not the School Board’s) will be funded either way, reductions to this rate will result in the county reducing raises for their own staff, and cutting requested additional positions (see the discussion at 2:02:20 in their meeting). In other words, if they lower the tax rate, we’ll still get our raises–but at the expense of other county employees.
Keeping these details in mind, here are the two important items to advocate for:
  • Ask the BoS to fully fund the School Board’s budget request. We are confident in the raises; we need to advocate for classroom supply funds and maintenance/repairs funds.
  • They need the to set the tax rate at 88.5 cents. Stafford County needs as much revenue as it can get.
Here’s what you can do to help:
  • Show up at the meeting on April 19th. Speak if you’re willing to. Historically, a room full of red goes a long way towards getting the School Board’s budget fully funded.
  • Email BoS members between now and April 19th to advocate for these things.
Crystal Vanuch, Rock Hill District,
Pamela Yeung, Garrisonville District,
Monica Gary, Aquia District,
Meg Bohmke, Falmouth District,
Tom Coen, George Washington District,
Tinesha Allen, Griffis-Widewater District,
Darrell E. English, Hartwood District,