WINCHESTER, VA- Frederick County Public Schools are already planning for the year ahead. Superintendent David Sovine has released his 2014 budget proposal, which includes some big benefits for employees.
"Our employees have not had an effective pay raise since July of 2008," says Steve Edwards, the Coordinator of Policy, Records Management and Communication for Frederick County Public Schools. "We're falling further behind when you look at other school divisions, with regard to teacher and staff salaries. Dr. Sovine thought that it was time that we try to close that gap."
A proposed $4.5 million salary initiative would close that pay gap for the district. The two-part plan would include a pay raise from Governor McDonnell that's currently in the General Assembly. A second part would focus on pay scale increases within the county.
"He's asked for additional funding to allow us to move all employees two steps on the salary scale, if they have more than one year of experience," Edwards says. "For those employees who will be completing their first year of experience, they would move one step on the salary scale."
County officials say items like, replacing school buses and improving technology and class size were not addressed in this budget because of a lack of funding.
"The problem is there is never enough funding to go around," Edwards says. "The school board made it clear that their primary priority for the FY14 budget is to address salaries and that's what Dr. Sovine has done in his budget."
The largest part of the $168.1 million budget is the School Operating Fund. It accounts for $136.4 million.
Employee healthcare is another growing line item.
"At this point," Edwards says. "Our projection is, the employers cost, the school divisions cost of group health insurance, will increase by 10-percent next year and that's a $1 million increase for us. So, his budget included additional funding to cover that expense."
The school district is finally putting its staff on the top of its list, hoping to provide a better education through better staff compensation.