The Rockbridge County Public School system (RCPS) is facing a budget shortage for 2017-18.  The school system needs roughly $1,000,000 in new revenues. The state is expected to increase its funding to the system by approximately $280,000. But the remaining $720,000 gap will need to come from the local government.

Breakdown of new costs:

  • Mandatory Virginia Retirement System rate increases: $271,576
  • Virginia Retirement System Group Life & Health Care Credit: $41,389
  • Health care premium increases: $139,796
  • Utility cost increases: $30,000
  • One-step salary increase: $307,025 Note: See detail below. One-step increases do not make up for our system lagging far behind neighboring school system pay or lower than state- and national- average, but slows the rate at which we are falling behind.
  • Consulting and training fees for new MUNIS financial system and other Central Office functions: $100,000
  • Two needed teaching positions: $126,269 Note: The system has educational gaps at all levels. Two positions do not fully remedy the gaps but are a start.

 TOTAL SHORTAGE: $1,016.055

What You Need to Know

  1. Teacher Compensation:
  • Facts
  • In our cohort of 20 school divisions in this area, Rockbridge County Public School teachers are paid below the median and the mean
  • VA teacher compensation is $6,000 below the national average. RCPS teacher pay is below the VA state average.  This makes our teachers among the lowest paid in the nation
  • State has called for a 2% pay increase in teacher pay. Inflation rate Jan 2017 was 2.5%[1]- this raise is less than a cost of living adjustment.
  • Consequences
  • Our teachers often have second jobs
  • Some are looking for jobs in the other 19 divisions since pay is higher there
  • Recruitment is hurt
  • Morale suffers, making teacher retention difficult.
  1. Funding:
  • Facts
  • The RCPS system ranks 85thout of 134 in how much above the state-mandated minimum the locality (Board of Supervisors) funds
  • Revenues from the Board of Supervisors have been flat at about $13,478,834[2]for FY10-15. This means that Rockbridge County Schools received the same funding in FY 2016 as in FY 2009.  Despite the fact that the economy is growing
  • Consequences:
  • Two schools were closed
  • 45 positions were eliminated: director positions, clerical positions, maintenance positions, curriculum specialist positions, and instructional technology resource positions
  • Programs were scaled back or eliminated
  • Purchases of capital equipment were put off
  • Capital improvements have been delayed:
  • The high school facility is approaching 25 years of use
  • The original Vocational-Technical Center is approaching 40 years of use.
  • The faculty, administration and non-teaching support staff at Rockbridge County High School is understaffed
  • The administration of the School Board is understaffed
  • According to teachers, there are barely enough people in the building to provide a safe and educationally adequate environment for all of our students
  • Teachers often do unpaid overtime work for the school to compensate for the lack of resources: A recent survey by RCHS yearbook found that our teachers already spend a combined $11,000out of their own pockets to make up for inadequate funding
  • RCPS district’s 76% graduation rate is lower than the VA state average of 79%[3]
  • Student performance has declined on SOLs
  • 4 of 6 schools currently under state guidance for improvement
  • Future programs are in danger: AP classes, Honors Classes, a variety of regular classes, CTE classes in electronics, alternative energy, cyber security, 21stcentury agriculture, and others.

Board of Supervisors needs to remedy the consequences of the flat revenues since the Great Recession!

BOTTOM LINE: Fewer classes (both advanced level classes, and cutting edge Vocational-Technology programs), swelling class sizes, fewer resources for teachers, and cuts in athletic programs are looming.  We will fall further behind if we don’t ask our elected officials to address the issue and allocate more funding to our school system. 

You can help.  Voice your support for the Rockbridge County Public School System at the following meetings:

  • Board of Supervisors’ meeting this Monday, March 13, at 5:30 (150 S. Main Street, Lexington).
  • Joint Rockbridge County School Board & Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on Thursday, March 16th at 4:30 at the school administration building (formerly Effinger Elementary School, 2893 Collierstown Road, Lexington).

Provide solutions – If you think tax increases to fund education are in order – please say so!

 

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/charts/consumer-price-index/consumer-price-index-by-category-line-chart.htm

[2] See page 11, Table 2: http://www.rockbridge.k12.va.us/information/budget/StateOfTheSchoolsFY16.pdf

[3]Page 18 of  http://www.rockbridge.k12.va.us/information/budget/StateOfTheSchoolsFY16.pdf and
https://www.publicschoolreview.com/rockbridge-county-high-school-profile

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