With the schools losing money from the state, the council chose earlier this year to give the schools a record $7.2 million, raising the school system’s share to the current percentage. Before that, Manassas Park’s school system received 38.5 percent of the city’s revenue.
“Most of the members of the council agree that the schools need this money to prosper. I’m confident that nearly everyone does,” said Thomas DeBolt, superintendent of Manassas Park Schools.
With city staff and council members disagreeing on whether this change was permanent, the City Council decided Tuesday that a new memorandum of understanding between the city and the schools should be drafted, keeping the percentage at 40.4 percent in coming years.
Discussion on the matter was sparked by a memo released Friday by Assistant City Manager Brett Shorter.
The memo projected alternative future budgets, depending on whether the schools received a 38.5 percent share or a 40.7 percent share.
“I don’t know where this 40.4 percent number even came from,” Shorter said.
Shorter made the new projections because the of the council’s recent decision to fund a $7 million expansion of Manassas Park High School.
At 38.5 percent, the city’s reserve fund, which should be about $4.7 million this year, would be $4.1 million by fiscal 2008, Shorter projected. But at 40.7 percent, the reserve fund would drop to $1.7 million by fiscal 2008, with the city running deficits every year, a situation that would hurt the city’s credit rating, he said.
“This makes it look like the schools are at fault for whatever budget problems the city is having,” Vice Mayor Kevin Brendel said at the Tuesday night meeting.
The council agreed with school officials present that the 40.4 percent should be guaranteed.
“We’ll take our 40.4 percent. And we’ll let you figure out the rest,” DeBolt said.
With the city and school system ready to sign on to a new agreement, Brendel hopes the school funding issue is now behind the council.
“I think once and for all it will make clear to everyone what the level of funding is supposed to be,” he said.