Goochland School Board delays budget vote after parents speak

GOOCHLAND, VA (WWBT) - A sign that the voices of angry parents in Goochland County were heard. The Goochland School Board was supposed to vote on a controversial operating budget, that would've cut some extra curricular activities like drama but that vote was delayed.

Parents begged the school board to take more time to consider the proposed cuts. They got their wish, but not after nearly two dozen people took to the podium to plead their case.

The Goochland High School auditorium set the stage for a battle to save programs that utilize this very space. Instead of two band instructors, the proposed budget calls for only one for the middle and high school and no replacement for the drama teacher who resigned.

"Our students will be the ones, (sorry) to feel this terrible loss," said parent Heather Wilkins.

The board was tasked to slash $629,000. Superintendent Dr. Linda Underwood said a number of positions were reduced through attrition and the decision was made to not fill the vacancies.

"Why is it that the superintendent's proposed budget cuts more teachers and decimates the band and elementary music programs?," said parent Jane Christie.

Dr. Underwood said the board hates to make cuts, but had to create a budget within the district's means. A part-time art teaching position was restored as well as golf, swimming and gymnastics.

Changes made based on calls and emails from parents. Under the revised budget, students would pick up more of the cost for dual enrollment tuition here at J. Sargeant Reynolds.

"How much money will that cause a parent to have to pay extra," asked parent Michael Payne.

For now, the budget is on hold, as board members consider comments from a packed house.

"Please, please find another way," said Payne.

The vote on the Goochland School Board operating budget is now slated for May 31st.

The chairman also pointed out that school board members are all taking a $550 pay cut, and the school superintendent hasn't had raise since 2008.

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