The Bedford County School Board’s newly approved budget includes a 4% raise for school employees and funding to provide Chromebooks for the approximately 5,330 middle and high school students.

The board approved the budget to take effect July 1 during a May 1 special session to discuss the budget and vote on awarding a contract for an upcoming school renovation and expansion project.

This year’s budget is approximately $107.8 million for the fiscal year, an increase of more than $3 million from the current budget of $104.4 million.

Revenues

Some of the school system’s expected revenues and expenses for the budget for the upcoming fiscal year include:

  • More than 50% of revenue will come from the $60.5 million allocated by the state, a $2.2 million increase from last year.
  • $5.1 million from the federal government, a $300,000 increase from last year.
  • $36.4 million from Bedford County, about $744,000 more than the $35.6 million the division received from the county in 2018.

District 7 Supervisor Kevin Willis confirmed on May 6 the Bedford County Board of Supervisors directed staff to allocate the additional funding to the school division in the county’s upcoming budget, and the board also has included a 3% pay increase for county employees in the budget, which is scheduled to be approved during the board’s June 10 meeting.

Expenses

More than 70% of expenditures for the division next year, $76 million, are instruction costs, which include salaries and benefits for teachers, guidance counselors and special education instructors.

Randy Hagler, the division’s chief financial officer, said the budget approved May 1 includes a 2.68% cost-of-living increase for division employees as well as step increases for employees based on merit and longevity in the school system.

“It equals out to a 4% increase,” Hagler said on May 2. “The step increases will be different for some employees that have not been in the school system as long but it averages out to 4%.”

Other expenditures in the budget include $6.3 million in technology spending, a more than $400,000 increase from the current budget, which will be used to accelerate the division’s initiative to issue Chromebooks to middle and high school students.

The division originally planned to provide devices for all middle and high school students over a multiple-year cycle by the 2021-22 school year.

Superintendent Doug Schuch said the school system now plans to issue Chromebooks to all learners in grades six through 12 during the next school year.

Division spokesman Ryan Edwards said Bedford County Public Schools already has issued about 2,000 Chromebooks during the past two school years and are planning to issue approximately 3,400 additional devices next year.

Middle school contract

Also at the May 1 meeting, the school board awarded a contract to Jamerson-Lewis Construction of Lynchburg for the $24.2 million expansion and renovation project at Forest Middle School.

The expansion of the school — located at 100 Ashwood Drive in Forest — will increase the facility’s square footage by more than 60% to 162,000 square feet and would renovate parts of the school.

The project will allow the school to accommodate about 1,200 students. The school currently has about 950 students enrolled and is about 100 students over capacity, school officials have said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in June and is expected to be complete before the start of the 2020-21 school year.