Chesterfield schools expect budget shortfall

By Laura Geller - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield residents got their first chance to sound off on the school's budget woes. Teachers want to make sure they'll have jobs and parents want their kids to get a top notch education!

Forty million dollars is the expected budget short fall for the county's 2011 fiscal year. At this point though, there's no telling what percentage of those cuts will come from the public schools Chesterfield kids attend every day.

Right now, there isn't actually an official county budget for residents to examine. Only a handful of the group at Tuesday's meeting participated in the first step of the process when cuts are just an idea, not a reality on paper.

Even so, Portia Smyth came to speak up for the three of her kids currently enrolled in Chesterfield Public Schools.

"I'm angry because I feel like my children should get the education that I got," she said.

Smyth told school board members she never thought she'd see the day education was put on the chopping block.

"We grew up knowing that the only thing that could not be taken from you is an education and when we remove teachers and resources from the school, we're limiting the education that our children get," Smyth said.

Symth has seen the impact of the current cuts in the larger classes where she says her learning disabled daughter can't get the help she needs. In her opinion, the board has more tough choices ahead.

At the same time, board members and the Chesterfield Education Association say parents need to help guide those decisions.

"Show us what you value. What is so important that you're willing to pay for it? And, what won't you miss when the funds are diverted to the classroom- is it football, show choir, library books?" said Frank Cardella, Chesterfield Education Association.

The final schools spending plan depends on the governor's proposed budget, which is expected sometime in December. In the meantime, both the school board and board of supervisors will hold community meetings during the next two months to get public input.

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