By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Tuesday, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents released its annual list of legislative priorities.
Their advice includes delaying new requirements for graduation and accreditation (some announced by the Board of Education the day before), maintaining funds for support staff (a reduction made by former Gov. Tim Kaine) and keeping charter schools under the authority of local school boards (a challenge to new Gov. Bob McDonnell).
In a survey half of the school divisions responded and indicated that they were considering abolishing positions, reducing pay, and increasing pupil-teacher ratios.
Having been a superintendent for many years I have experienced multiple "down-turns" in the economy, but none as deep and sustained as this one.
There are cautions to be noted. This time last year our new President said that stimulus money would save 600,000 teaching positions and funds came flowing from D.C. -- $19 million in Chesterfield.
Short term money should not be used for long term expenses was our editorial observation -- three to five years does not cover the career of a new teaching position unless you believe that the economic recovery will produce new revenue quickly.
Well for Chesterfield the money was lost sooner than expected. When the truck left D.C., it got hijacked in Richmond and the $19 million was used in Gov Kaine's budget to meet the state's obligations.
So to put the superintendents challenge in perspective, federal money has been lost, state money will be reduced, and local revenue will surely be less with real property reassessments.
Superintendents should never say, "We will not make it" because they will. Perhaps they should say, "Less money, give us more room to work."