ASHLAND, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County School Board has adopted a $217 million budget plan giving all employees a 5% pay raise, additional salary increases for longtime employees and funding for new positions to address students’ mental and behavioral health.

The board unanimously approved the school division’s operating budget for the 2023 fiscal year, its nutrition fund and a $175 million, five-year capital improvements plan on Tuesday.

The budget is set to take effect July 1, but it can’t be finalized until a state budget deal is reached. Without an agreement at the state level, the county won’t know the revenue for its schools for next year and won’t be allowed to move forward with its proposals.

“At this time there is no change to the School Board’s Approved Budget due to the General Assembly not adopting a budget at this point,” Hanover schools’ budget presentation states.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Hanover County School Superintendent Michael Gill said that while amendments may have to be made after the General Assembly adopts a two-year state budget, a delay in adopting the school district’s budget would prevent it from offering contracts to employees.

Gill added that Hanover schools is confident that the district will “only gain money” after the state budget is approved. School divisions will be provided with the Virginia Department of Education’s revenue estimates ten days after the state budget is passed, Hanover schools anticipates.

“Please note that while the ongoing work of the General Assembly could impact the final content of the budget, we remain optimistic that this budget, which we believe upholds our promise to prepare all students to be successful and life-ready while also caring for those who care for our students, will come to fruition,” the district wrote in a budget update.  

The school district will review the revenue estimates before proposing any technical amendments to the FY2023 budget, which will have to be presented to Hanover County’s School Board and Board of Supervisors for review and approval.

When asked by the board on Tuesday about when the school district’s “point of no return” would be if the state budget is not approved, Hanover schools’ Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Christina Berta said at the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

School districts across the commonwealth are facing the same waiting game as lawmakers continue to negotiate the state budget. A potential government shutdown could come if the state legislature doesn’t approve a plan by the end of the state’s current budget year on June 30.

Here are a few proposals in the adopted Hanover schools budget plan:

School operating fund: $217,259,835

  • A 5% pay increase for all school employees starting July 1.
  • Additional salary increases for employees based on their years working for Hanover schools. Employees with the county for five to nine years will receive an extra 1%, 1.25% for 10-14 years, 1.5% for 15-19 years, 1.75% for 20-24 years and an extra 2% for employees with 25 or more years of service.
  • The creation of internal salary scales for certain jobs in the school division “to further improve starting salaries, pay equity, and regional competitiveness.”
  • Money set aside to have four substitutes assigned to each high school, three at each middle school and at least one at each elementary school.
  • Funding to allow the district to rescind tuition for employees living outside the county who want their children to attend a Hanover school — which currently costs $1,500
  • Funding for five additional school counselors, two applied behavior analysis consultative teachers, a school psychologist, a work-based learning coordinator, a career counselor, advanced studies coordinators, two additional ESL teachers, and an elementary senior teacher for special education.

Five-year Capital Improvements Plan

  • Over $175 million in funding over five years — $51.4 million for the fiscal year 2023 — for the construction of a new John M. Gandy Elementary School in the first year.
  • Design and construction funding to replace Battlefield Park Elementary is included in the third year.
  • Funding for the design and construction to replace Washington-Henry Elementary School and the design and renovation of Beaverdam Elementary School in the fifth year.