Petersburg School District likely $2 million in the red - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Petersburg School District likely $2 million in the red

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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

Petersburg Schools released a preliminary budget for fiscal year 2014, projecting a $2.1 million shortfall and the possible loss of two dozen teacher positions.

"The draft budget is the worst case scenario," Superintendent Dr. Joseph Melvin said in an email statement Thursday. "The possible cuts don't look good, they don't feel good. Right now, we're working off of the governor's proposed budget. Changes could be made to our budget plan based on what happens in the General Assembly."

Petersburg Schools will pass a final budget in May, after the General Assembly passes an education budget for the state. Dr. Bill Bosher, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy at VCU, said the district is getting hit from two sides: less money from the state, and less money from property tax revenues.

"Now if they're under siege financially, you have a perfect storm," Bosher said in an interview Thursday.

Under the proposed options to close the shortfall, no teachers would be forced to leave their positions. Instead, new teachers would not replace retiring staff members. Cutting 26 teaching positions would save an estimated $1.5 million, according to preliminary estimates.

Cuts could also come to the city's Governor's Schools, with $114,000 in reductions to Maggie Walker and $470,000 in cuts to Appomattox Regional. Bosher says funding should not always impact quality in the classroom.

"You don't fund yourself into excellence," Bosher said. "It seems, over time, Petersburg has not been willing to develop the programs to determine whether or not they have performance."

The District budget is expected to have a final vote May 15, 2013.

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