Suffolk School Board adopts #036;123 million budget package

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 21, 2005

The city’s new daytime alternative school won’t serve as many students as originally planned at first.

But despite only receiving half of the $700,000 needed to open the school, the Suffolk School Board is still planning to begin the much-needed program this fall.

During a special meeting Friday, the board unanimously adopted a $123.2 million budget that gives teachers a 6 percent pay raise.

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The school budget, which was approved by the Suffolk City Council Wednesday, includes $38.7 million in local funding. That is 14.3 percent more than last year’s allocation.

City lawmakers could still come through with full funding for the project next month, during its own budget process.

But in an attempt to fund a 2 cent tax cut, City Manager R. Steven Herbert recommended shearing $350,000 earmarked for the project from the school’s budget.

&uot;All the localities to the east of us have gotten into the tax-cutting mode,&uot; said School Superintendent Dr. Milton Liverman. &uot;Unfortunately, so has the city of Suffolk.

&uot;We are on a different side of the growth curve. From where I sit, a tax cut is not the best thing for the city.&uot;

City officials suggested the school system could delay starting up the alternative school-initially designed to serve 80 to 100 middle and high school students-until January 2006.

Instead, the board went with Liverman’s recommendation that the program be reduced to serve 40 students next year.

Rather than starting up with 11 teachers, the alternative school would have just four instructors, one principal and a clerical worker.

The alternative school would likely be housed in one of the newer schools that isn’t yet filled to capacity, Liverman said. But with the school system’s rapid growth, that would be a temporary solution.

If the board come back and approves the remaining $350,000, the board might consider using that money to acquire a permanent building for the school, he added.

School Board Vice Chairman James Perkinson praised Liverman’s recommendation that would enable the division to move ahead with the alternative program next fall.

&uot;The idea of the reduced size is good,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ll be able to get something started right away.&uot;