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Kanawha school budget to go down with enrollment

Charleston Gazette graphic by Tye Ward
Charleston Gazette graphic by Tye Ward

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The lowest student enrollment in at least two decades and the continuing retirement of experienced teachers will drop state funding for Kanawha County’s next school year by more than $3.4 million.

Next month, the Kanawha school board is expected to approve a $236.1 million 2015-16 school year general budget, and met about the issue Tuesday. Unrestricted state funding is projected to drop from $133.9 million this school year to $130.5 million.

“The two big drivers for our budget will be the level of experience our folks hold and what enrollment does,” treasurer Lisa Wilcox said.

She said state funding is based on enrollment and teachers’ actual salaries. So when headcount drops and older teachers — who are paid more based on their seniority — retire and are replaced with younger ones, the state reduces its contribution used to fund those salaries.

“That’s a reduction in revenue, so we have to watch our spending and cut back,” Superintendent Ron Duerring said of the enrollment drop.

The number of educator and school service worker positions the state funds is based on enrollment. Kanawha will receive state money for about 16 fewer positions for the next school year, though Wilcox didn’t know whether the number of positions would actually decrease by that much or whether the county will dip more into local funding to pay for maintaining employees…

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