Schools will trim 11 positions to accommodate lower enrollment while giving 1-step for staff, other pay corrections and higher VRS.

The Botetourt School Board will put the final touches on a proposed 2017-18 (FY18) budget when it meets Thursday morning as a committee of the whole.

The proposed budget is expected to include level funding from the Board of Supervisors, and close to the same funding from the state as the current year.

The budget comes in at just over $51 million (about $11,200 less than this year).

The school administration is proposing making some shifts to accommodate a $1.5 million increase in spending that will provide a one-step raise for all certified and classified employees, salary corrections for certain identified employees, a 2 percent increase for administrative employees, mandated increases in Virginia Retirement System payments and an increase in regional program expenses.

To do that, the administration is recommending reducing staffing by 11 positions, making adjustments to the school health insurance plan to maintain level premiums, decreasing general operations expenses, and utilizing budgeted personnel savings.

That’s all with a 3.6 percent lower school enrollment than this year. The school division is using state projections that indicated Botetourt schools will enroll 4,435 students next school year. That’s down from the 4,600 the current budget is based on, and it’s a number School Superintendent John Busher says is realistic— particularly when considering the early kindergarten enrollment numbers for this fall.

The school division expects to receive $29,955,179 from the county, and the Board of Supervisors General Fund Budget Committee that met Thursday and Friday last week is assuming the same.

The school division is expecting a loss in revenue under the state’s Standards of Learning funding formula because of declining enrollment, but that’s been offset by an increase in lottery funding and the state’s share of funds for a 2 percent pay raise for teachers. The school division gave the raise last year even though the state did not follow through on its part of a similar proposed raise.

Most of the savings the school division will have in the FY18 budget comes from the 11 positions that will be eliminated.

That comes with the decreased enrollment.

“Eleven positions have been identified to be removed with the dropping ADM (average daily membership),” Busher told the School Board Budget Committee during its meeting last week. He called it “Position Reorganization.”

The school division will save another $200,000 in what’s called “Budgeted Personnel Savings.” That will account for the difference in what retiring teachers and their replacements are paid.

The school division’s shift to leasing buses and saving general operating expenses for fuel, vehicle maintenance and technology will provide about $265,000 in savings.

The school division expects to save $112,220 in health insurance premiums by working with its consultants to restructure the plan.

The proposed one-step increase on the salary scales will cost $545,803 and the continued corrections in salaries for staff that were hung up on the salary scale for several years will cost about $350,000.

The 2 percent raises for administrators, who have not received a raise in several years, will cost $67,278.

Another big hit comes from the increase in what the school division has to pay into VRS. The new rate is 16.32 percent, up from 14.66 percent in the current fiscal year.

The cost for regional education programs also goes up $118,420.

Director of Administration and Finance James Lyons told the school budget committee that the school administration “made some very difficult decisions” in preparing the budget.

The School Board will see a proposed line item budget during an 8 a.m. budget committee meeting Thursday. The School Board is expected to send a budget to public hearing on Thursday, March 23 at 5 p.m. at the School Board office in Fincastle.

The School Board has until April 1 to present a budget to the Board of Supervisors.