March 20, 2013
The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 Wednesday night to advertise the rate at 79.5 cents per $100 of assessed value, which means but the budget would fall about $400,000 short of the funding request from the school board.
Board chairman Shaun Kenney says the county will not be able to give the school district all $14.1 million that it is seeking. The schools will likely receive about $13.7 million.
The county is already planning to close two elementary schools to save money. Balancing the budget has also eliminated 33 positions, including 12 teachers.
Several dozen people at Wednesday's night's meeting asked the board to meet the schools' funding needs.
One of the teachers who just found out that she is losing her job asked the supervisors to consider the costs of their decision.
"When you go home and you go to sleep think about who we are," said first-grade teacher Julie Buck. "I am a real person. I'm not just a number. I'm getting married in May. I'm moving out and I don't have any idea how I'm going to survive on my own now."
Members of Focus on Fluvanna's Future greeted the school board and board of supervisors with neon signs outside of the meeting. Teacher Perrie Johnson said students are feeling the brunt of the cuts.
"It is very hard to say that the children are getting the same quality education now as they have in the past. We are losing good teachers, we have broken equipment, we have few supplies and we need the support of our community leaders to bring us all back around again."
Inside the meeting, student Hannah Corbin raised concerns about how teachers are not only strapped for cash but also time.
"They don't have time to grade tests or papers or give us the feedback we need because they're busy covering for other people because we don't have the money to get subs. That's ridiculous," said Corbin. "They don't have money and now they don't have time. We need to do something."
Supervisor Kenney says it will take a few years before the county can fully restore what has been taken away. He says Wednesday's vote is one that many people should be content with.
"Compromise is very difficult. There's pain for all sides involved," said Kenney. "To be able to put back in over a million dollars into the school system from the previous fiscal year and then be able to go back to the taxpayers and say, 'We respect your sacrifice. We're willing to put even a little back in,' I think is a good win for all sides."
After supervisors unanimously approved the advertised real property tax rate at 79.5 cents, a second round of public comment took place. Following pleas to reconsider the decision, supervisor Joe Chesser moved to increase the tax rate to at least 80 cents, saying he didn't think they were doing the right thing by advertising it at 79.5 cents. Supervisor Mozell Booker seconded the motion, but it was struck down in a 2-to-3 vote.
It has not yet been decided exactly how much money the schools will receive, but Kenney says it will likely be very close to the $13.7 that is now advertised.