Greene Co. Parents Organize Petitions to Curb School Budget Cuts

March 20, 2013

Budget woes in Greene County could affect as many as 22 positions in the school system, but parents are now getting involved, trying to prevent any cuts.

"When you start thinking about them cutting positions you have to ask yourself, 'Which teacher at my school is going to go?' said Kiki Flaig, president of Ruckersville Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Association.

Many parents are concerned about the potential cuts. The schools have requested just shy of $13 million in local funding for their budget, which amounts to about $32 million in total. The request of the county's share is less than last year.

"Always as a parent, I think anyone in the community who has kids in public schools, that's your biggest concern is the quality of your child's education, the class sizes," said Heather Hopson, the PTA's advocacy chair.

Flaig and Hopson are now organizing petitions to the county's board of supervisors to see if anything can be done. A petition sent out last week supported "level funding" for the schools, to grant the amount they requested. They're about to roll out a new petition asking for more.

"We're giving the same amount this year as we did last year," Greene supervisor Eddie Dean said. "We're taking the same amount out of the reserve fund as we did last year. We can't do that every year."

The supervisors' consensus is that they don't want to see less money, but cuts are increasingly becoming a sign of the times.

"On this surface, we've talked, discussed some issues," Dean said. "But there needs to be more transparency between the school board and the board of supervisors."

"We feel like that's our job is to inform and engage the public and bring them in so we can have that conversation with our board of supervisors," Hopson said. "That's what they really want."

In the petition, parents say they fear less money would lead to bigger class sizes, lower teacher morale and more staff turnover.

"Not only are we kind of whining and complaining for more money for the schools, but we're also saying how can we help the county as a whole," Flaig said. "They're kind of part of our family, so I just can't imagine what we would do with one less."

Parents and supervisors say they will continue to work together until they find a solution so the same cuts don't continue to happen year after year.

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