School Board to discuss budget today

Published 10:07 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

The Suffolk School Board will hold a public meeting today to try to get a better handle on looming budget issues that may result in job losses and the closing of two elementary schools.

They will also receive word of how the General Assembly’s final budget will affect the school division.

“We will talk about some of the things that have come up recently,” said Michael Debranski, School Board chair. “We will look at the two elementary schools that we looked at earlier to see if we have to do anything with those.”

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The school system will also present money-saving alternatives to closing the schools per the request of the School Board members at the last meeting, Bradshaw said.

There are mixed feelings among School Board members about closing the schools, Debranski said. He hopes the board will be better able to discuss their options after hearing the General Assembly’s decision and budget alternatives.

The School Board has the power to rearrange the priorities within the budget if they decide to keep the schools open, Bradshaw said.

At the recent closed meeting between two School Board members and two City Council members, City Council was interested in how the school system is saving money.

Debranski said the conversation centered on money-saving initiatives, the school system’s priorities and debt.

Debranski and Thelma Hinton, School Board vice-chair, laid out the school system’s Capital Improvement Plan and discussed possible locations for a proposed school to replace Robertson and Southwestern elementary schools with Mayor Linda Johnson and Vice Mayor Charles Brown during the closed-door meeting.

The School Board will be looking into some suggestions that City Council made in reference to the budget during the closed session.

Debranski said there is no specific location decided for the new school.

“We are still working on it,” he said. “We are working cooperatively to come up with a place. We haven’t agreed on a site yet that is suitable.”

A location off of U.S. Route 58 is being considered, but nothing is definite, Hinton said.

She added that the city’s concern is for the school to follow the city’s pattern of growth. The School Board wants to find a location that will best serve the population.

“Suffolk has done very well,” Hinton said. “I’m hoping that the city will give us level funding and add $2 million dollars.”

The special budget meeting will be held today at 10 a.m. in the Black Box Theater at King’s Fork High School.