Arlington County schools would receive $50.7 million from the county for the next fiscal year, $2.2 million more than last year, under a proposal by county manager Larry J. Brown.
Although the increase would cover required boosts in benefits and pay raises based on tenure, it would provide little room for additional pay increases.
County budget chief Anton S. Gardner said the school board can provide modest, across-the-board pay boosts if it decides to use the funds for salaries rather than other services.
The recommendation by Brown was made at a Board of Supervisors meeting last week, marking the beginning of budget deliberations for the fiscal year that begins next July 1. The final school budget is not expected to be approved until next spring.
The figure proposed by Brown would represent a 4.4 percent increase in the county's contribution to schools. Last year, the county board set a spending guideline of no more than a 5 percent increase in county funds, although the final school budget exceeded the limit. The board could set this year's school spending guideline as early as its next meeting, Oct. 16, when a report from the county fiscal affairs advisory committee is expected.
The current school budget of $62 million includes $48.5 million from the county. It provides a 5 percent salary increase for school employes.
Gardner said the proposed increase for next fiscal year takes into consideration such salary-related items as increases in hospital insurance premiums, retirement payments and automatic "step" salary increases. It also addresses such things as increased costs of gas, electricity, supplies and equipment maintenance, he said.
At a work session between the supervisors and school board members three days before the board of supervisors meeting Saturday, Superintendent Charles E. Nunley said the schools would need at least $49.4 million from the county next fiscal year to run the school system at its current level.
The calculation, he said, does not include an across-the-board pay increase for school employes or funds needed to implement the board's so-called "planning factors"-- educational guidelines the school board sets, such as the number of students per teacher. The figure also does not include any increase in the costs of supplies and equipment, Nunley said.
Noting some major slices in last year's administrative portion of the budget, school board chairman Evelyn Reid Syphax and vice chairman Simone J. (Sim) Pace warned that there are very few areas of school spending that would be educationally sound to slash in the coming fiscal year.