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Update: New Kent School Board public hearing on FY15 budget rescheduled for Wednesday

By Amy Jo Martin, amartin@tidewaterreview.com

4:17 PM EDT, March 17, 2014

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NEW KENT — Residents will have an opportunity Wednesday to discuss the reduction in student enrollment that may cost New Kent County Public Schools.

Due to inclement weather, the New Kent School Board will hold a public hearing on the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 budget, which was originally set for Monday, March 17, has been postponed until Wednesday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. in the historic courthouse (School Board Offices). Residents are encouraged to attend and speak up.

Interim School Finance Director Sheila Minor presented the School Board with the proposed budget last month.

During the FY 2014 budget planning season, staff anticipated the school enrollment would be 2,988 students, totaling more than $12,655,000 in state contributions.

Minor explained that updated reports show the enrollment at 2,903 students, a difference of 85 students. This means a $354,000 loss in state revenue than originally predicted.

Minor is unsure as to why the enrollment dipped.

"Typically, the enrollments have been trending up each year," she said.

As a way of recovering from the financial shortfall, Minor is proposing the schools consider using $240,000 from the Virginia Public School Authority (VPSA), money that would have gone toward future technology initiatives.

"VPSA funds are for the purchase of new computers for classrooms, network capability, bandwidth, instructional software and handheld devices," Minor said.

"These (VSPA funds) have been used extensively to meet Virginia Department of Education SOL testing requirements. The funds provided still fall far short of our technology needs," Minor said.

A combination of expenditure savings (frozen positions, operating savings, etc.), funds carried forward from last year, and slightly higher than budgeted locally generated revenue will make up the $114,000 difference, Minor said.

Martin can be reached by phone at 804-885-0040.