Albemarle County Schools pass $3.9 million cut

Board increases class sizes, addresses state per pupil funding shortfall

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“Every single initiative that was proposed in this year’s budget was cut,” Moynihan said. “This includes a new evaluation system for teachers that, if we had been able to implement it, would have saved us money.”

The Albemarle County School Board met to discuss necessary cuts to the county’s budget Thursday night.

The School Board, who has to cut $3.9 million total from its budget, proposed an increase in average class size by .21 students and to only give teachers a 1 percent pay increase instead of the 2 percent previously voted on by the county.

Pamela Moynihan, the Rio magisterial district board member, said the numbers this year are the worst she has ever seen during her four terms on the board.

“Every single initiative that was proposed in this year’s budget was cut,” Moynihan said. “This includes a new evaluation system for teachers that, if we had been able to implement it, would have saved us money.”

Stephen Koleszar, the Scottsville magisterial district board member, said the philosophy of the Board has always been to make cuts furthest from the classroom, but this year it was not enough.

“We cut everything that we thought we could but there was still a gap, so we had to increase class size,” Koleszar said. “This eliminates 10 teaching positions in the county.”

The Board also proposed cuts to discretionary budgets, which are allocated to each principal to use at his or her discretion, by 5 percent, and to cut funding to the county’s Bright Stars program, a preschool initiative designed to jumpstart education for at-risk county youths.

“The last thing I wanted to do was increase class size and cut discretionary budget but you have to do what you have to do,” Moynihan said. “I’m sure we will make due to with what we have and provide an excellent education for the children.”

Kate Acuff, the Jack Jouett magisterial district board member, said though this year’s cuts are bad, the real problem will come in a year or two when even more cuts are forced to be made.

“There are going to have just as bad or worse cuts next year to the budget,” Acuff said. “We are at the cusp of really having an adverse effect.”

The Board did propose to keep funding to upgrade the science labs at Western Albemarle High School, in line with its initiative to jumpstart the upcoming environmental science academy program, and to start foreign language programs in elementary schools.

“Both initiatives are part of a strategic plan for the county developed a couple years ago and delaying either would be disruptive,” Acuff said.

Koleszar said this decrease in funding comes from state legislature, which has reduced funding by $1,200 per student since 2008.

“However, despite the lack of funding, I believe that the quality of the instruction is more important than class size, and we will continue to have high quality instruction,” Koleszar said.

County Board members are still hopeful the Board of Supervisors will allocate more money to the county.

“We will continue to persevere and do the best we can and hopefully we will see more money after we vote on the budget,” Moynihan said.

The Board will vote Thursday to confirm the proposed budget cuts.


Published April 20, 2014 in FP test, News





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