School budget calls for closures, no raises

Published 10:16 pm Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Suffolk Public Schools budget, released Thursday, includes the closure of Florence Bowser Elementary School. It also relies on increased funding from the city.

Teachers would go another year without a raise, and two of Suffolk’s 14 elementary schools would close, under a $141 million budget proposal released on Thursday by Suffolk School Superintendent Deran Whitney.

In a letter to School Board members, Whitney stated that the total budget he has proposed is actually nearly $1.9 million — or about 1.3 percent — less than last year’s spending plan.

“There is no question or debate that we are in the middle of difficult budget days,” he wrote. “I am convinced that we can make it through these days and become even stronger because of these challenges. I am committed to continuing to provide the best possible educational experience to all of our children.”


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Even in the face of a smaller budget, the school system will require more help from local taxpayers, Whitney stated. Reduced state contributions to Suffolk’s public schools, along with a proposed increase in Virginia Retirement System premiums, he explained, will trim $5.2 million from the current year’s spending plan, a gap that would not be fully closed under Whitney’s proposed budget.

Cost-cutting measures would include the closures of Florence Bowser and Mount Zion elementary schools, which would result in the loss of 22 positions. Salaries for all employees also would be held at current levels, Whitney stated, meaning that school employees would earn the same salaries that they have for the past three years.

On the revenue side of the ledger, the superintendent’s proposed biennial budget calls for an additional local contribution of $2 million this year and next to help offset the declining state aid, especially as a result of last year’s update of a formula that determined the distribution of state education money based on municipalities’ ability to pay. That update resulted in the commonwealth committing a smaller percentage of funds to Suffolk.