by Kate Evans
The Morgan County School Board officially adopted their Fiscal Year 2024 total budget of $36,828,461 last Tuesday, May 16.
A public hearing on the budget was held at the meeting before the board’s vote. No members of the public offered any comments. The proposed school budget was published in The Morgan Messenger and is also posted on the Morgan County Schools website. Paper copies were also available at the school board office.
The total school budget revenue for the 2023-2024 school year consists of an estimated general current expense fund of $29,792,775, an approximate special revenue fund of $3,975,686 and a capital projects fund with a balance of $375,000. The federal stimulus and stabilization fund holds $2,685,000 in revenue with $2,400,000 reserved for special projects and $285,000 in Communities in Schools funding.
School Treasurer Ann Bell said that budgetary considerations for this year’s budget included the deduction of $95,319 in state aid due to 13 Morgan County students being enrolled in Charter Schools during the 2022-2023 school year.
The Charter School allowance in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget is calculated on how many students are enrolled in Charter Schools the previous school year.
Bell also said that there was a 153% increase in WV BRIM liability insurance due to statewide claims.
Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief and American Rescue Plan (ESSER/ARP) funding is expiring by September 30, 2024. Bell said that the school system is trying to find other ways to fund what these monies have brought to county schools.
Bell noted that House Bill 3035 – The Third Grade Success Act –is requiring early childhood classroom assistant teachers (ECCATs)/aides in first grade classrooms. That means seven new aide positions this year.
Bell also said that employee salary and benefit changes include a 23% legislative PEIA insurance increase and a $2,300 legislative salary increase. Much of the $2,300 salary increase will go to the PEIA increase, said board president Aaron Close.
There will also be a county salary increase of $500 per employee, supplemental salary scale increases, $200-$500 stipends for coaches and dental/vision plan benefit increases. Bell said that the salary increases will bring the county salaries closer to those of neighboring counties.
She noted there hadn’t been any changes to dental and vision benefits since 1995. The supplemental salary scale hasn’t been revised since 2009. Coaches received their last raise in the 2018-2019 school year.
The general current expense fund revenue includes a projected $5,862,484 in regular school levy property taxes, $4,958,383 in special levy taxes, $685,000 in prior year taxes, $10,881,670 in total basic state aid and an estimated $1,650,000 carryover fund balance. Some $500,000 is reserved for contingencies.
The total estimated revenue from the combined regular school levy and the special levy is $10,820,867-$509,902 more than last year’s projected revenue of $10,310,965.
Approximately $334,330 in debt service goes toward the CMTA energy management program lease purchase payment and also the QZAB no-interest loan payment for the Berkeley Springs High School renovations.
The projected cost of long-term substitutes is $800,000, some $747,500 more than last year’s estimate. $325,000 is set aside for contractors-$274,920 more than in FY2023.
Student enrollment has been declining for quite some time, Bell said. The student head count is at 2,179. Full-time student enrollment is at 2177.38 and with the added 13 Charter School students is at 2190.38. Total enrollment is down 19.82 students. State aid is based on student enrollment numbers.
Estimated school expenditure categories include $16,440,872 for instruction; $3,148,237 for facilities operations and maintenance; $2,661,202 for student transportation; $1,744,723 for student support services; $1,716,181 for school administration; $1,429,740 for instructional staff; $521,135 for central services; and $378,982 for central administration.
Some 76.22% of the total budget goes toward employee salaries and benefits and $55% of the budget goes toward instruction.
Special revenue fund
The $3,975,686 special revenue fund includes Title 1, Title 2 and Title 4 funding, funding for special education, child nutrition, bus replacement, career technical education, alternative education, faculty senates, staff development and the 21st Century Learning grant for the after-school programs.
The total projected special levy revenue for Fiscal Year 2024 is $4,958,383-some $233,650 more than last year’s projected $4,724,733.
The special (excess) levy call designates an annual estimated $1,972,105 for employee salaries and benefits; $1,252,438 for critical educational programs support including alternative education, prevention resources and behavioral, academic and remedial support; $400,000 for facilities maintenance; $300,000 for capital improvements and repairs; $125,000 for technology; $400,000 for instructional materials and textbooks; and $45,000 for the combined support of the Morgan County Public Library ($27,000) and the Paw Paw Public Library. ($18,000)
Major general current expense fund expenditures for the Fiscal Year 2024 are $10,463,206 for professional regular salaries, $3,229,007 for service personnel regular salaries, the $2,254,653 unfunded retirement liability, $2,323,117 for health/life insurance premiums, $1,187,943 for social security matching, a total of $1,023,744 for retirement plans, $800,000 for long-term substitutes-a new separate budget category, $670,000 for electricity and $591,473 for other professional services.
Other large expenses include $479,500 for purchased services-LEA in state, $$255,974 for non-technical repair/maintenance service, $372,008 for professional supplemental salaries, $325,000 for contractors, $300,000 for professional substitutes, $291,585 for technology supplies-software, $227,953 for textbooks, $226,822 for general supplies, $175,000 for diesel vehicle fuel and $152,500 for service personnel substitutes.