Public Weighs in on Proposed Albemarle School Budget

January 30, 2014

It has been two weeks since Albemarle County Public Schools superintendent Pam Moran presented her funding request to the school board.

The schools are facing anearly $7 million budget shortfall for the next school year.

Moran has attributed the expected deficit to three main components that she says are out of the school system's hands: inflation, mandates and student growth.

Now it's up to the school board to help finalize a funding request to send off to the board of supervisors.

On Thursday, parents and teachers weighed in at a public hearing. Most of them emphasized the need to fully support Moran's request or face increased class sizes, no raises for employees and no professional development for teachers, among other things.

Joined by their principal, a large portion of the crowd at the public hearing was made up of students and parents from Cale Elementary School.

"As a parent, I'm asking you to keep class sizes as is, not cut programs -- critical programs -- again for well-rounded students, and we need our teachers in our classrooms," said parent Kelly Tobler.

Tobler's daughter was one of many Cale Elementary students who participated in the elementary world language pilot program.

Several parents emphasized the need for exposure to second languages early on.

Cale has a large Latino population, and the interpreter and translator services many students and parents rely on could also be on the chopping block if the school system needs to make cuts.

But not everyone at the meeting expressed interest in asking the county to dish out $7 million.

"Our schools are great. We don't need increased funding. We need more initiative and more creativity," said Albemarle County parent Mike Basile.

Others say it's a good investment because it'll affect more than education.

"In order for the county to grow and thrive, you need strong schools. The lack of funding will weaken our schools and ultimately impact the county's ability to grow its tax base, attract new residents, businesses and employers," said parent Lauren Ryan.

Following the public hearing, Moran presented the board with a proposed three-tiered plan for reductions to her requested budget. Though the tiers are not set in stone, they include potentially eliminating the swim and dive program, increasing class sizes and cutting bus pickup for students within a one-mile radius of school.

About 66 full-time employees' jobs are at risk of being cut if all the reductions are made.

To view Moran's presentation and get a breakdown of the three preliminary tiers, click HERE.

The school board has its next budget work session on Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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