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Commissioners doubt school budget will be fully funded

January 12, 2001

Commissioners doubt school budget will be fully funded



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Washington County Board of Education should not expect to be fully funded by the Washington County Commissioners, judging by a survey of the commissioners Wednesday and Thursday.

Schools Superintendent Herman Bartlett has proposed a $127.4 million operating budget for fiscal year 2002, which begins in July. The budget is $9.6 million more than last year, with $6.9 million expected from the commissioners.

In addition, the county has been asked to increase Capital Improvement Program funds for fiscal years 2003-2007 to $6.5 million from $4.5 million.

Commissioner John L. Schnebly said he is sympathetic to the CIP request, but does not think the county can fund that increase.

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As for the operating budget, the Commissioners main interest is in ensuring teacher salaries are competitive. Schnebly said he is not sure if they can fund the entire budget request.

"It's an aggressive budget," Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

Snook needs to see the county's revenue projections before he can see if there is enough money to cover the education request, he said.

"It (the budget) probably won't meet their entire request," he said.

As for the CIP budget, he said, "We'll have to take a hard look at all budgets."

Commissioner William J. Wivell said he can't see increasing the capital budget without giving something else in return.

As for the overall budget, he said, "I think it's unrealistic to think we can come up with $9.6 million more for the Board of Education."

"It's my hope that the school system realizes the end of the rainbow does not rest on the backs of the taxpayers," Wivell said.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz said he hasn't read enough of the budget to reach an opinion. He thinks it's more likely the county can find money for capital improvements than for the operating budget.

Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said he hasn't seen the budget yet.

"It will be a tight year, budget-wise," he said. "We want to help them as much as possible."

Iseminger said he can see paying more for capital improvement budgets now if that will help pay for consolidation of schools later, which would save money.

The county needs to hear more from the Board of Education on how these changes would help the education system, he said.

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