School Budget Targets Health Insurance and Pay Raises

AUGUSTA COUNTY --- A school board meeting being held Thursday night will deal directly with the budget for the upcoming school year.

Tough decisions are expected to be made as a result of the area's $2.3 million deficit.

School leaders say staff will likely start seeing consequences next year, and health insurance coverage and pay raises will be two of the main focuses for saving money.

One idea on the table involves cutting health insurance coverage in half for part-time employees, like bus drivers and cafeteria workers.

Part-time employees currently have full coverage as part of their benefits package for working for Augusta County.

However, health insurance costs are going up almost a million dollars for the county.

One school board member said on Thursday morning that cutting health coverage for part-time employees would lead to the most amount of savings for the next budget.

According to board member Nicholas Collins, the changes to health coverage could end up impacting the amount of people who look to county schools for jobs.

"One of the reasons a lot of people look for employment here is to find something that will carry their health insurance," he explained. "All of a sudden the benefit won't be as great."

Collins said the plan regarding health insurance is the latest idea to help the area get through tough economic times.

"It's a challenge where you're constantly asked to do more with less. It's been a tough five-year period here that we've all been a part of."

Raises for teachers are also expected to be impacted.

Teachers were hoping to see a three to four percent raise, however it will likely be lower.

Superintendent Dr. Chuck Bishop discussed the raises on Thursday morning, saying they will likely be two-percent for teachers, slightly lower to help balance the budget.

The budget still needs to be approved by the school board.

On Thursday night, they are expected to vote on whether to put the health insurance and pay raise plans into place.

The meeting starts at 5pm at the Augusta County Government Center in Verona. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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