INTERVIEW: Chesterfield School Budget

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Chesterfield superintendent, Dr. Marcus Newsome and the School Board President David Wyman made an important announcement. We've had so much bad news in Chesterfield schools and this is actually good news. $15 million in savings realized through some efficiency efforts at the district and as a result, they're going to give a bonus equivalent to 2% of the salary of all the faculty and staff there in Chesterfield. Dr. Bill Bosher is here, our education specialist to make sense of all of this for us.

Ryan Nobles: The first question I have is where did this $15 million come from?

Dr. Bill Bosher: In school divisions in Virginia, you can't go in the red. So you're going to have to have a surplus. For instance, Cleveland once borrowed money to run the schools. That can't happen in Virginia. Also, when you're trying to project and Chesterfield uses a million gallons of gas with 550 buses. When you're trying to project the cost of a gallon of gas, you do that a year and a half ahead, and so gasoline, energy, utilities, plus they did some things like, 'Let's not buy any materials for the next year. Let's not stock up', and then attrition. Positions that went unfilled, it all contributed to a very significant year-end fund balance.

Ryan Nobles: $15 million in savings, $9 million going to be set aside for the future and the rest to giving the faculty and staff a bit of a boost, kind of a thank you for putting up with everything that they have been forced to deal with, but Dr. Newsome kind of talked about it. It's been real bad leading up to this point. We've got kind of a sunny sky now, but it's going to get bad again, correct? We're going to see bigger cuts down the road.

Dr. Bill Bosher: Right. Fiscal Year-2012 is not going to be good. Dr. Newsome said it's one-time, which means this is a bonus. The tricky part of this is how does the IRS figure it out in terms of one-time payment. It does treat it like 12 months; people could get less money than they think. I've been there. The second is, really, you don't spend short-term savings for long-term obligations, so this won't change salary scales. It's a courageous thing to do to try to lift the morale of people who have been under siege and been in the public eye with huge cuts. It also has down sides and the down side will be taxpayers who say why not to us and to employees in the government side and other areas who say, well, will we get a piece of this as well?

Ryan Nobles: $15 million is probably a lot of people that wish they had a piece of this. So this is Dr. Newsome saying this is a group that he thinks is the most deserving at this point?

Dr. Bill Bosher:
He's saying all of the employees under his supervision. Now, I once did adjust for teachers and I got blown out of the water because everybody said 'Don't you appreciate us at all'. So for all of his employees, a 2% bonus increment, one-time, that's going to be paid to them. I would not imagine either, Ryan, that this is being done without conversation with the leadership of the board of supervisors and the county administrator.

See the video at right for the full interview.

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