About $34 million is needed to keep Manassas Park’s four schools clicking on all six cylinders next fiscal year, according to a budget presentation by Dr. Bruce McDade, the superintendent of Manassas Park City Schools.
The $34.74 million budget proposed by McDade is purposed to carry the school division through Fiscal Year 2014 which begins in July and ends in June of 2014.
The budget is about $325,000 more than the current operating budget, McDade said Monday night after he presented his proposed budget to the Manassas Park School Board.
There are many reasons why more money is needed, but one of the main reasons is an expected increase in enrollment of students, McDade said.
They hope to use some of the money is to hire additional staff, as there are areas of crowding in the school system, McDade said.
Some of the classes at Cougar Elementary are too large, as is the case at Manassas Park Middle School, McDade said.
The high school student population will grow some 16 percent in the next three years, he said.
Next year, the school division population is expected to reach more than 3,000 for the first time, McDade said.
“We have to hire additional teachers in the four core areas, otherwise it will be 35 students and above in some classes,” McDade said.
The core areas of study are, English, math, science and history, he said.
The increase in student enrollment is not because of several new residential communities in the works for Manassas Park, he said.
Those haven’t even been factored in yet, McDade said. The new homes being built in Manassas Park will probably have to be considered in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget, he said.
The school division isn’t to the point where it has to add on to any of the four buildings to accommodate students, the superintendent said.
When crafting the budget, school division staff also factored in a two percent raise for all everyone working in the schools.
“We want to reward, our teachers,” McDade said.
The state mandates that half of that 2 percent toward the Virginia Retirement System (VRS).
School division staff and board members began planning the Fiscal Year 2014 budget back in August 2011 during a retreat, when they discovered they needed a long-term exercise that considers the next three to five years, according to McDade’s budget presentation to the school board.
Choices made by staff were based on priorities, he said. Priorities are based on missions and goals the school division wishes to accomplish, McDade said.
This year, the school division used its budgeted funds to address safety issues in Manassas Park High School, among other things.
It was the only school where someone could potentially bypass the school’s main office and enter the building, McDade said.
Cameras and a buzzer system were installed at the front door to ensure the safety of students and staff, he said. Technology upgrades were also addressed, the phone system was upgraded and carpet was added to certain schools, he said.
Wireless Internet capabilities were added at the high school and more laptops were added at the middle school to allow more students to use computer to take Standards of Learning (SOL) tests, he said.
Where will this proposed $34 million come from?
The school division gets its money from three main sources: the federal government, the state government and city contributions.
In the last five years, federal grants have been the most volatile, McDade said. In 2008, federal grants accounted for less than 3 percent of all revenue for Manassas Park schools, but in Fiscal Year 2010 that number increased to 9 percent because of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, also known as U.S. President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. Those funds have expired and that number has returned to about 3 percent.
State funding is easier to calculate, as it is dependent on Average Daily Membership (ADM) numbers from the school division. ADM is defined as the average number of students the division will teach between September and March.
State funding has increased since 2008 because of the large decline in the LCI or the Local Composite Index, which is an estimate of a locality’s (city, town or county) ability to pay.
The LCI is recalculated every two years and the city of Manassas Park’s ability to payis expected to rise in Fiscal Year 2016, McDade said.
In Fiscal Year 2008 the city contributed $13.6 million to school operations, but projections for Fiscal Year 2014 show that the city could transfer $3 million less than the 2008 amount, McDade said.
This year, the amount the city gave the schools increased by half of one percent over the amount given the year before. The half of a percent per year is written into the city’s financial plan and is expected to remain in place for some time, according to McDade’s presentation.
After the presentation, school board members thanked staff and McDade for their work.
The board will have a budget work session on Feb. 11, followed by another meeting on Feb. 25.
Read up on Manassas Park's school division budget in past years: