Chesterfield asking for community input on school budget cuts

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -  Next school year it's estimated that another $30 million will be cut from Chesterfield schools. We know something has to go, but one parent is encouraging you to take a stand for what you think should stay.

Even while juggling her job at the Virginia State Bar, mom of two Leslie Haley will always make time for what's most important to her.

"Yeah it's that important to me," explains Haley. "Education is that important."

How often are you thinking about what they're learning at school? "Well, I'm thinking about it all the time with my kids," explained Haley. "My daughter being a junior, I'm already thinking about colleges."

After slicing $80- million from the school budget over the last few years, Leslie worries about what will be slashed next.

"We've got really quality teachers and administration. The question is can we keep them? Can we keep this standard up? We're not going to know until after the fact," she said.

In addition to a smaller staff kids are learning in larger classes and dealing with fewer courses and limited supplies. School spokesperson Shawn Smith says the time to act is now.

"We've already begun the process," said Smith. "We started in May with a community presentation."

In May more than 100 people took a stand for what they'd like to see stay. The discussion continues five months later.

"They have an active role right now as they understand the process, the timeline," said Smith.  "They know that their participation is encouraged but is important to happen right now."

This is the first time Chesterfield has started the budget discussion this early. Leslie says your suggestion could be one school leaders haven't considered. Taking a note from her legal background, she makes this appeal to you.

"Don't wait until it's too late. Come out now and learn."

The school system urges you to talk to your local supervisors, reach out to state and federal politicians. Do something before the superintendent presents his budget in January.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

Future of Education forums start on Oct. 20

What does the future hold for Chesterfield County Public Schools? A series of forums featuring dynamic speakers will offer information, pose questions and seek answers. Invited to attend these forums on the future are community members, business leaders, parents, teachers, students and school administrators.

Taking place 7-9 p.m. on Wednesdays this fall, the forums begin the process of updating the strategic plan of Chesterfield County Public Schools.

Admission to the forums is free; reservations are not required. Here is the schedule:

Oct. 20 • A World Without Boxes • 7-9 p.m. at Manchester High, 12601 Bailey Bridge Road • A brick-and-mortar school isn't the only place to learn. Online classes made it possible for Joel Erb to complete high school while running the marketing agency he founded when he was 15 and continues to lead today.

Oct. 27 • Reaching the Stars Through STEM Education • 7-9 p.m. at Bird High, 10301 Courthouse Road • Explore space with astronaut Susan Kilrain and hear how she achieved her dream. She'll cover obstacles, teachers who paved the way, out-of-this-world images and the importance of instruction in science, technology, engineering and math.

Nov. 3 • Education Must Be the Father of Invention • 7-9 p.m. at Monacan High, 11501 Smoketree Drive • Severe allergies inspired Monacan graduate Eric Edwards to find a better way to deliver life-saving medicine. Intelliject, the company he founded with his identical twin, produces innovative medical devices that are gaining widespread use.

Nov. 10 • Can World Peace Begin in Chesterfield? • 7-9 p.m. at Thomas Dale High, 3626 W. Hundred Road • Motivated by a creative approach to instruction, John Hunter's fourth-grade students seek peaceful solutions to global problems. This award-winning Thomas Dale graduate will show how he prepares young people for their futures.

Nov. 17 • Trust But Verify: A Mantra for the 21st Century • 7-9 p.m. at James River High, 3700 James River Road • Classroom technology and how to learn in a world swirling with information are Dr. Karen Richardson's topics. She is the executive director of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education and teaches at VCU and at the College of William and Mary.

Dec. 1 • Leading Change in Education • 7-9 p.m. at Clover Hill High, 13301 Kelly Green Lane • Change is inevitable, but what will change look like for our schools and our society? Dr. Michael Rao, president of VCU, will discuss academic expectations in a vibrant, urban university and building a supportive community.