Must ado has been made over the challenges PWCS faces in developing a budget for next school year. Most parents and teachers are aware that the school division’s finances are tight. Many of our schools have continued to ration paper and toner. Rather than hire substitute teachers, some schools require teachers to use their planning period to cover for absent teachers.
Citizens across the county have been writing their hands over the Chairman’s proposed budget guidance. The thought that full-day kindergarten and transportation to specialty programs might be eliminated has engendered tremendous controversy. Channel 7 sent the local TV news crew to the school board meeting last night to cover it.
It would probably surprise you to learn that PWCS had $76.5 million left over at the end of last year, then, wouldn’t it?
That’s $76.5 million that could have been spent on paper and toner and substitutes and tuition for teacher CPE and increasing the bandwidth at our schools, but wasn’t.
$27 million of that $76.5 million was transferred to the Construction Fund, but $49.5 million was carried forward to this school year as a beginning balance.
PWCS plans on having $30 million left over at the end of this school year, and every other school year, for as far as the budget is presented.
That’s $30 million that could be spent on paper and toner and substitutes and hiring more teachers to bring down class sizes and tuition for teacher CPE and funding full day kindergarten and increasing the bandwidth at our schools. But that money won’t be spent on our children.
It will carried forward, every year.
This, despite budgeting tens of millions in reserves for unplanned events every year.
Loudoun County Public Schools plans to carry forward about $10 million from year to year. Loudoun’s school system is almost as large as our’s.
Fairfax County Public Schools planned $45 million in carry forward this year, less than PWCS planned. Fairfax’s school system is more than twice the size of Prince William’s.
So here’s the budget guidance I’d like to provide my school board member and the Superintendent.
Plan your budget to have a beginning balance of no more than $15 million: next year, and every year thereafter.