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School Board Approves $33.9 Million 2013 Budget

School division's $450,000 contingency fund related to state lawmakers ending General Assembly session with no state budget.

The Manassas Park School board approved a $33.9 million operating budget that includes $449,000 that is directly contingent on what state budget Virginia lawmakers approve.

 Board members present at the meeting unanimously voted in favor of the $33,925,000 budget on Monday during their regular meeting.  Board member Ron Gill was absent.

The budget includes $32.5 million in federal grants and operating expenses, $1.4 million in food service and $5,000 for the medical trust, Manassas Park City School finance director Krista Kelly told the board Monday.

 The $449,000 in contingency funds makes the approved school board budget higher than the .

School officials propose increasing the division's federal and operating budget by about $450,000, because it remains to be seen exactly how much money the it will get from the state.

The Virginia senate’s proposed budget is significantly higher than that of the governor’s budget and includes a substantial portion for basic aid.

The contingency money is $449,000 because the divison's medical trust amount is $1,000 less than what was projected last month during the superintendent’s budget presentation, Kelly said.

“I don’t suggest that we try to spend this money,” Kelly said. “This is $450,000 that I really suggest we put in contingency right now because we want to be able to cover any potential VRS (Virginia Retirement System) changes.

But what this does is it mitigates the need to increase our appropriations come the beginning of the year. Our appropriations are based on our budget and if the Senate version does pass, then we we’ll be getting more money, so if we go ahead and budget for that at this time, holding the money in contingency until we are certain that we have it then we don’t have to justify going forward with the governing body the increase in that state revenue.”

 The contingency also provides some, “wiggle room” should the school division have an unexpected increase in enrollment. That happened this year in Manassas Park and administrators had to quickly hire more teachers, Kelly said.

If the school division does receives more money from the state, school officials will decide later what to do with it.

 The Manassas Park City Schools contingency is an example of how some localities are having to plan their budgets in the dark because of a lack of a state budget.

The Virginia General Assembly ended its session this month without a budget because of party disputes about spending and political power, according to a Washington Post report.

 Localities don’t know how much money will come from the state which spends half of its general fund on the state's 134 localities, the Washington Post reports.

Lawmakers are expected to return to Richmond for a special session this week to see if they can come up with a budget by July 1.

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