Henrico schools face $16 million shortfall

By Andy Jenks - bio | email
Posted by Brad Viar - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - New information today on the state's money crunch, and what it will mean for local schools. Educators are figuring out how much less state aid they'll be getting. 

In an interview today, the superintendent for Henrico County Public Schools said his district faces a $16 million shortfall. School leaders are looking at what to cut.

"We've made sure that we've kept our teachers and that core, that they would be the last to be affected  by any manner," said Dr. Pat Russo, Superintendent of HCPS.

The district will likely cut supplies, travel, and vacant positions. But not programs, or people.

"We will not be looking at people losing jobs," Russo said.

Elsewhere, cuts may be more difficult. Richmond schools are projecting a shortfall of up to $21 million dollars. And Chesterfield's may grow as large as $30 million.

Governor-elect Bob McDonnell said his administration and local districts, will all be asking the same questions.

"Where do we spend the money better? How do we spend it more wisely? And as you know, I campaigned on  the fact that money is spent more wisely in a classroom, as opposed to administrative offices," McDonnell said.

In Henrico, the goal is to keep cuts outside of the classroom.

"Our intent was to make sure this would have little, if any effect on the output to students," said Kevin Smith, Assistant Superintendent for Finance.

But even that, may only be enough to close the gap, this year. School leaders fear, it's not just a one-time problem.

"The second year [of the two-year state budget proposal] is going to be much more difficult, if not worse," Russo said.

Details are yet to be finalized. Governor-elect McDonnell, state lawmakers, and school officials will all be able to tweak their spending plans over the next several months. In Henrico, for example, the next school budget doesn't come up for a vote until May.

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