The Covington City School Board has approved a budget for 2021-2022.

The proposed budget of $12,071,587 was unanimously approved during a Tuesday evening meeting.

According to Rebecca Irvine, the school division’s director of business and finance and the school board clerk, the proposed budget is based on the

General Assembly state revenue projections that were released Feb. 27.

She also stated that a veto session is scheduled for early April and state revenue changes are still possible.

Out of the $12,071,587 proposed budget, the amount that will go into operations is $11,566,744 and $504,843 will go into the cafeteria fund.

This budget includes an increase of $423,326, which is 3.6 percent over the current budget.

A $359,813 increase in state funding that ties into revenue changes for operations is based on a projected Average Daily Membership (ADM) of 940.

The proposed budget will also see a decrease in federal funds, a $30,000 decrease due to the termination of the GEAR-UP VA Grant, among them.

Other expenditure changes in the proposed budget include:

— A 4.9 percent increase in health care premiums ($114,000);

— Division-wide Literacy Coach position ($68,000 with fringe benefits included);

— Teacher Salary Scale realignment to equalize Covington City Public Schools salary steps 0-12 to the Alleghany County Public Schools teacher salary scale ($56,800 with fringe benefits included);

— $57,000 to go toward step increases for 113 eligible employees with fringe benefits included (23 employees that have reached the top of the salary scale are not eligible for this increase);

— $20,000 toward the implementation of a minimum wage increase ($11/ hour effective Jan. 1, 2022) for all eligible employees (instructional aides and custodians) and annual hours worked for instructional aides have also been adjusted to align with Alleghany County Public Schools with fringe benefits included;

— Realignment of bus driver salary scales to recruit drivers ($15,500 including fringe benefits);

— Three new positions to be funded with ESSER COVID-19 mitigation funds:?Learning-Loss Elementary Teacher ($59,500), Bus Driver ($34,200),

Part-Time Custodian ($10,700) with all positions having fringe benefits included;

— Increased allocation to Jackson River Vocational School based on enrollment ($32,600);

— Three retirements/terminations for a savings of $40,000 including fringe benefits.

Also emphasizing that the budget is still in the early stages, Irvine stated, “This remains a preliminary budget, since the application for Emergency and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) for COVID-19 mitigation has not been finalized.”

She continued, “Once this application is approved, a budget revision will be necessary. This budget is compared to the FY ‘21 approved budget, prior to any Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) appropriation for the current year.”

With the unanimous approval of the proposed budget, the school board will meet a deadline of today to submit a budget to Covington City Council for its review.

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Rebecca Irvine, director of business and finance for Covington City Schools and the clerk to the Covington City School Board, outlines budget figures during a work session held by the school board Tuesday evening. The school board has approved a $12 million budget for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year. (Jerome Johnson Photo)