Dr. Steven Walts has proposed massive cuts in the School Board budget to make up a shortfall of nearly $80 million dollars. Projects and building will also be delayed as will certain school bus routes. After school programs will also see the budget hatchet. 700 jobs could also be cut.
According to the Manassas News and Messenger, additional cuts considered are:
Walts is also proposing increasing parking fees for high school students, charging athletic participation fees at the middle and high school level and reducing Central office budgets by 10 percent. The elimination of bus routes means that all students being bussed to specialty schools out of their district would be eliminated. However, bus routes for Thomas Jefferson School for Science & Technology and both Pennington and Porter Traditional Schools would remain.
The net effect of the bus issue, according to budget presenter David Cline, would be to transition those 32 buses to handle the surge in the regular student population, which is expected to reach more than 78,000 students by next fall.
The budget cuts are going to run deep. Bus services for specialty programs will be cut. Parents would have to provide transportation. Parking fees will increase. Central office will get a 10% cut. Class sizes will increase. Retirement will be encouraged.
Finally the N & M has hinted at the freeze on re-calculating the Local Composite Index issue submitted by former Governor Kaine and apparently getting ready to get the nod by current Governor McDonnell. They have taken no position to day on NoVA schools being short-changed by millions. The county and both cities stand to lose millions of state dollars because the formula is not being re-calculated as it should be.
The budget takes into account an expected $20 million shortfall due to the proposed freezing of the composite index by former governor Tim Kaine. The index is a formula that determines the ability of localities to pay for education, and grants state funding based on that determination.
Prince William’s index dropped more than 4 percentage points, thanks in part to a huge decrease in property values and consequently, potentially less money for both the county and the schools. Approximately 57 percent of the general fund revenue from the county goes to the schools.
People who value education should be swamping the governor’s office with letters, calls and emails advising him to recalculate the formula to ensure the Northern Virginia schools do not get shortchanged as they surely will if things remain the same.
The Washington Post makes no bones about the LCI causing a quarter of the problem:
Officials attributed a quarter of the school system’s projected $80 million shortfall to a proposed freeze in the adjustment of a state funding formula that is intended to compensate school systems for enrollment growth and declining tax revenue. School Board members urged parents to contact their elected officials.
“The entire General Assembly needs to hear that this is not fair,” said board member Don Richardson (Gainesville).
In an unrelated topic, the PWC School Board has appointed Lisa Bell to serve as the Neabsco School Board member until a special election is held November, 2010.