Smyth school officials are looking at a $51 million budget for next year, which is about $800,000 larger than the current year, but figures will remain uncertain until the state approves a budget and rates are set for health insurance.

“We built a budget based on a lot of things we don’t know,” said Superintendent Dr. Dennis Carter at Monday’s school board meeting. Things like state funding and a possible increase in health insurance are not yet known, he said.

As the budget was developed, preparations were made for a potential 10 percent increase in health insurance rates, Carter said, because rates won’t be known until the end of February. The budget also includes a 3 percent flat raise for staff that added to this year’s 2 percent raise would yield the 5 percent raise required by the state by 2020.

The budget includes all these unknowns because it had to be prepared and sent to the county board of supervisors by Feb. 15. Carter said it would be sent for yesterday’s supervisors’ meeting with the caveat of many unknowns.

Enrollment continues to decline in Smyth County schools, Carter noted, and he is looking at 95 fewer students next year for a total of about 4,074. With $6,500 budgeted by the state for each student, the county is looking at a loss of approximately $617,500. Most will hopefully be made up in enrollment-loss funding from the state that is designed to help school systems facing declining enrollment.

As the state continues to debate the 2019-20 budget, the governor’s budget of $32,675,363 is looking kinder to schools than the House budget at $32,615,500 or the Senate budget at $32,469,445, Carter said.

The school board is requesting of the county a 2019-20 budget of $51,588,841 with an increase of $797,505 over the current budget. The county budget must be adopted by July 1.

In other business at the meeting, the school board members were presented certificates from the state in recognition of School Board Appreciation Month in February.

The certificate states in part: “…the education of Virginia’s school-aged children is the foundation upon which the economic, social, and intellectual strength of our Commonwealth is built; and the leadership of our school boards affects the development and future of our children and ensures that students are prepared to compete in local, state, national, and global economies.”

This year’s theme of Leading for Success “reflects the top priority of local school board members as they advocate for public education with local, state, and federal leaders, and school board members work with parents, businesses, education professionals, and other community members to create and sustain an educational vision for our students.”

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