by Jackie Nunnery
LANCASTER—Lancaster superintendent Jessica Davis on Monday, February 13, shared with the school board a first look at a proposed $18,102,929 budget for the 2024 fiscal year, a decrease of $1,149,332 (6%) from the current budget of $19,252,262.
Local funding projections include $11,847,348 for the school general fund and $99,548 for the textbook fund and are virtually unchanged from the current budget.
Davis said the overall decrease is due to the $1.1 million received for school construction that came from the state last year. The budget is still a work in progress as “influencing factors,” such as the cost of health insurance and state contributions are not known at this time, she said.
Davis said health insurance numbers will not be finalized until the end of February but “we’re hoping to absorb most, if not all of that cost increase for our employees.” The division is also waiting to hear how the state will deal with the $200 million revenue loss from the 1% grocery tax elimination. When the General Assembly passed the legislation last session, the intention was to hold localities harmless, meaning the state would make up for the loss in revenue at the local level when it took effect January 1. However, an error at the state level failed to account for that, impacting Lancaster schools by $19,637 for the remaining fiscal year and $48,516 for the next.
Davis presented other goals that had been placed into the budget, primarily a 5% pay increase (3.5% increase plus a 1.5% step) for teachers, bringing the starting salary to $46,575. All other staff would receive a 5% increase. Davis would also like to see substitute pay increased. “We rely heavily on substitutes now for both short-term and long-term, so increasing that pay will allow us to . . .
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