Worcester School Board Signs Off Proposed Budget

NEWARK –  The Worcester County Board of Education adopted a proposed $108.3 million budget for the coming year.

On Tuesday the school board voted 6-0 to adopt a proposed budget of $108,262,987, which represents a 3.34 percent increase over the current year’s spending plan. Increases come in the areas of health insurance, salaries and capital projects.

“In building a budget, our school board and administration is committed to ensuring that every dollar spent is spent in the service of providing the best education possible for the 6,700-plus children in our care,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said. “As we discuss and finalize our budget as long as every decision we make is centered around our students we will be making confident strides towards success.”

According to Vince Tolbert, the school system’s chief financial officer, $88.4 million of the proposed budget would be funded by the county while slightly more than $19 million would be funded by state aid. The county appropriation, which is 4 percent more than it was last year, includes additional funding for instructional items and capital projects.

The proposed budget includes $1.7 million for salary increases. Teachers are set to get a step increase as well as a 1 percent cost of living adjustment. Support staff are expected to get a 1.5 percent cost of living adjustment.

The proposed budget also includes funding for a 1 percent increase in hourly and mileage rates for bus drivers.

Tolbert said the one-time instructional items included in the budget were new elementary reading textbooks and replacement band uniforms for the high schools. He said the uniforms currently in use were more than 30 years old.

Officials have built $1,043,500 into the budget for one-time capital projects. The bulk of that would be used to replace the athletic field at Stephen Decatur High School with a new turf field. Funding for the turf, which would be installed during the summer of 2019, would be incorporated into the fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020 budgets.

“That’s one of the busiest schools we have as far as athletics,” Tolbert said.

The other capital projects included in the coming year’s budget are the replacement of energy management systems at Pocomoke Middle School and Stephen Decatur Middle School.

The budget was approved by the school board following the ratification of negotiated agreements with the Worcester County Teachers Association and the Worcester County Education Support Personnel Association.

Education officials will review the budget with county leaders in April. The county’s budget is expected to be approved in June.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.