Sequester Could Cause Teacher Cuts in Charlottesville

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

July 10, 2013

The federal sequester cuts are pulling money away from local schools, and it may put teacher jobs on the line.

Charlottesville school leaders warn that if they don't get $139,115 more from the city, they will have to let go of two teachers. The school district plans to ask the city council for the additional funding at Monday's city council meeting.

"It's been a lot of cutting since 2009," said Ed Gillaspie, the finance director of Charlottesville schools. "There is no room for the school system really to maneuver."

The schools had expected to get $1,483,676 from the federal government's Title I program, but the sequester removed nearly ten percent of that funding.

The Title I program gives low-performing students extra attention in math and science.

"These are the students that you really want to make sure you keep an eye on and you keep supporting," Gillaspie said.

The Title I schools in Charlottesville are Burnley-Moran, Clark, Greenbrier, Jackson-Via, and Johnson Elementaries.

Camilla Tolton is the mother of three children who attend Johnson Elementary. She says the school needs all the Title I funding it can get.

"We have a lot of kids that are from the International Refugee Center," Tolton said. "A lot of these kids are learning English for the very first time and they're picking it up so fast because they're in small classrooms."

Tolton's third-grade daughter, Lowell, even benefited from some extra attention in math.

"When I was in kindergarten, in math I was very not good," Lowell said. "So I went to a separate class with this special teacher and after I came out of the class i was one of the best."

"We want our kids reading. We want them to learn about technology and math," said Camilla Tolton. "We want them to get all the things that we enjoyed when we were kids."

And Lowell says she would be sad to see any of the teachers at Johnson lose their jobs.

"I love all the teachers," Lowell said. "Even the ones that can be a little strict."

Gillaspie is confident that the city will come to the rescue to fill the funding gap.

"The city is having to make tough choices of their own," he said. "We certainly hope that they're able to help us out."

Phil Giaramita, with Albemarle County Schools, says his district has been keeping Title I funds in reserve, so Albemarle schools are not facing any cuts, despite the sequester.

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