County schools may receive additional funding

Albemarle education system currently faces $1.2 million deficit

Albemarle County Council held a preliminary public hearing Wednesday night to discuss a proposal to increase property taxes. The increased rate, which will come to a vote April 3, was proposed by the Albemarle County Public Schools Board of Supervisors and would increase funding for public schools by $600,000, Albemarle County Schools spokesperson Phil Giaramita said.

The school division currently faces a $1.2 million deficit, Giaramita said, marking a decrease from last year’s $2 million deficit but nevertheless forcing administrators to make substantive cuts in times of increased state demands.

“The bottom line is we are in better shape than a year ago,” Giaramita said. “The economy is good and hopefully [the council] will agree to the increase and the additional funds to close the gap and look for additional ways to save money.”

Increased student enrollment, coupled with the state-mandated 2 percent raise for teachers and school employees, creates a strain on the school division’s finances, Giaramita said.

Steve Koleszar, Albemarle School Board Chair, said the deficit is modest compared to the overall budget for the school system, but he appreciates the Board of Supervisors’ proactivity on the issue. State legislators, however, must prioritize education in the coming years, he added.

“The state continues to fall behind in their funding of K-12 education,” Koleszar said. “I hope that proper funding for education will be the major issue in the 2013 elections for governor and the House of Delegates.”

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