Chesterfield schools facing budget reduction

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Last year federal stimulus dollars proved to be a saving grace for Chesterfield County Public Schools, but that money is set to run out. The district needs to reconfigure their budget so programs and jobs aren't lost. The next few months will be difficult for school leaders. They're expecting a dip in local and state funding. Right now it's unclear how much.

"At the end of the day, it's to keep jobs, and that's what this school system is looking forward to, is saving jobs," said school board member Omarh Rajah.

While the president of Chesterfield's Education Association, Frank Cardella, may be looking forward to that, he's preparing for the worst.

"It really is a classroom focused issue. We've cut a lot of the bricks and mortar decisions, and textbook adoptions, school buses were delayed and now we (may) have to cut out people," said Cardella.

$20 million in stimulus funding will carry the district until the end of next year. Then it's gone.

"We still have to hear from the governor and the general assembly as to what budget amendments they're going to propose. People want to talk about the tax-rate. And we've been lowering the tax-rate the last couple of years, as a result the long-term effect is decreased revenue to the county," Cardella said.

So before residents and the school board take to the chopping block, Cardella says evaluate every job and program.

"There's no way we should ever talk about cutting (programs in) the arts. Parents need to understand no matter how much the budget shrinks, the arts are the sole reason that some kids stay in school," said Cardella.

Since the county now knows there will be a $38 million shortfall in 2011, school board member Omarh Rajah is asking for a leg up.

"They need to give us some preliminary projections on their part, so we can start merging those things together at an earlier time," Rajah said.

Pre-Budget Public Hearing

  • At 7 p.m. in the Public Meeting Room, 10001 Iron Bridge Road, the School Board will conduct a business meeting. The meeting will include a pre-budget public hearing. This is an opportunity for people to speak about the budget for the 2010-2011 school year before a budget is proposed. People who wish to speak are asked to contact the School Board clerk at 748-1497 to add their name to the speakers list for this public hearing. Each person may speak up to three minutes.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.