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Watch for more answers on Monday, March 4, when Superintendent Dr. Samuel T. King and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Michael Thornton will appear on an edition of NPS Now on Ch. 47 and on the NPS Web site.
What is an operating budget?
An operating budget is an agency’s estimate of how much money it will take in, and how much money will be spent on day-to-day operating expenses, during a 12-month fiscal year. Just like in a household, this budget includes salaries and benefits, and other expenses such as the cost of utilities and supplies.
In Virginia, Norfolk Public Schools and other governmental agencies are required by law to have balanced budgets; no checkbook overdrafts are allowed.
An operating budget does not include capital expenses, such as construction of new schools.
How much is NPS’ operating budget?
Dr. King has proposed a $300,114,282 million operating budget for the fiscal year that runs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. That is nearly $5.3 million, or 1.7 percent, less than the current-year, amended budget.
Is Dr. King’s proposed budget a done deal?
No. Dr. King presented his proposal to the School Board on February 20, 2013. The School Board now will consider whether to adopt the proposal as is, or to amend it. The Board must approve an operating budget in March and send it to the City Council by April 1, 2013.
The City Council then will decide whether to adopt the school division’s budget as is, or amend it by adding to or subtracting from the amount of local revenues Norfolk will provide to NPS. The City Council must adopt a budget for Norfolk by May 1.
Does Dr. King’s proposed budget include a salary increase for employees?
Yes. Dr. King has proposed a 2 percent salary increase for all NPS staff members.
Page 244 of the proposed budget references a 17 percent increase in the line item for the Superintendent’s salary, and a 9.7 percent increase in another line items relating to “associate superintendents,” as well as an increase of the number of administrators. What does that mean?
Dr. King and the leadership team would be eligible for the same salary increase as granted to all other employees, currently proposed at 2 percent, if the School Board approves. Page 244 of the proposed budget reflects the fact that Dr. King and the leadership team were hired after those line items in the FY2013 budget were finalized, and therefore the previous budget only listed estimates. The proposed budget lists the actual salaries associated with those positions. Dr. King has not proposed a 17 percent salary increase for himself, or a 9.7 percent salary increase for his deputy superintendents.
Also, administrators have decreased from 52.25 in FY2012 to 45.25 in the proposed FY2014 budget.
Why does the proposed budget not include a step increase?
Norfolk Public Schools is experiencing multiple years of declines in state revenues. This has affected the size of the salary adjustments NPS has been able to give to its employees. Last year, the School Board’s priority was to provide salary adjustments, but also to protect NPS staff members from a state mandate that employees begin contributing to their Virginia Retirement System accounts. The Board granted a 7 percent pay increase, with 5 percent going to offset the VRS requirement.
This year, the school division has been challenged by a budget gap of $18 million. However, NPS is laying the foundation for future step adjustments. We are in the midst of a salary study that will revise all pay scales for the school division, and compare NPS to surrounding areas.
Will employees’ health insurance premiums increase next year?
Yes. Overall, NPS is projecting a 10.6% increase in health insurance premiums next year, however Dr. King’s proposed budget includes money to absorb a share of that increase, so that most employees’ take-home pay would still be higher than this year.
What cost-saving measures have been taken to protect jobs and classroom instruction?
NPS has frozen most open positions, except for critical school staff positions. The proposed budget would eliminate 38 Central Office staff positions for next year, for a savings of $2.2 million. Non-school-based operating budgets also will be reduced, for a total savings of $2.5 million. Total Central Administration expenditures for FY2013-14 have been cut by $613,000. Instructional staff also will be realigned to account for enrollment declines, for a total savings of $3 million.
Why is administrative travel increasing 124% according to page 107 of the proposed budget?
The line item on page 107 is one category of travel - a category called "Administrative Travel."
Across all travel categories, the FY2013-14 proposed budget reflects a reduction of $139,992, or 29%, when compared with FY2012-13 travel budgets. The increase in the Administrative Travel category is the result of reclassifying (or consolidating into the Administrative Travel budget line) planned travel expenditures, which may have been spread across other categories. This will allow NPS to more readily and accurately account for the costs of attending meetings and training conducted by the Virginia Department of Education and other educational groups as the school division continues to implement mandated changes related to school improvement and teacher and principal evaluation models.
Could NPS employees suggest ways to save money?
Absolutely! All ideas are welcome. Send them to www.npsk12.com/feedback, and they will be shared with the Superintendent and the School Board.
Was any innovation possible in such a lean budget year?
Yes. In developing his proposed budget, Dr. King had five strategic priorities, aligned with the NPS Strategic Plan that is being developed for implementation beginning July 1, 2013:
- We will promote NPS as the cornerstone of our community’s well-being.
- We will empower and facilitate meaningful family and community partnerships.
- We will relentlessly pursue engaged learning through high-quality instruction.
- We will host environments in which all individuals feel safe and secure.
- We will nurture a culture of excellence, equity and justice through continuous improvement.
The proposed budget provides support for a number of initiatives that are important for children:
- The purchase of new, interactive instructional software designed to improve student literacy and writing ($1 million)
- Increased funding for Advanced Placement testing for students ($40,000)
- Funding for “safety nets” to assist students who are most challenged in terms of meeting curriculum standards ($800,000)
- Additional funding for alternative education programs ($170,000)