Schools propose $157M budget

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, February 11, 2016

The School Board on Thursday viewed a budget that provides 25 new positions and raises for some personnel but relies on $5.3 million in additional funding from the state and city to get it done.

“We’re expecting a little bit more revenue than we’ve had in most recent years,” Dr. Deran Whitney, Suffolk Public Schools superintendent, told members of the School Board at their monthly meeting. The total budget is about $157.5 million, a 4-percent increase from last year.

Most of the proposed increase — $4.3 million — is proposed in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s state budget, Whitney said. The proposed school budget also requests an additional $1 million from the city, for total local funding of $54.57 million.


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School Board members were pleased to see the proposal, but Vice Chairman Enoch C. Copeland reminded his fellow members that it’s just that at this point — a proposal.

“It’s not a done deal yet,” he said of the governor’s budget, which has not yet been approved by the General Assembly. “Don’t forget that.”

Whitney proposes increasing some staff salaries using the extra money, if it does come. Teachers will receive a step increase. All full-time support employees will receive a step raise. Most permanent part-time employees will receive a 1.5-percent increase.

“Our part-time employees haven’t had an increase in several years,” Whitney told School Board members.

In addition, many support staff — such as secretaries, custodians, textbook clerks and the like — will see an increase in line with the recommendations from a compensation study completed last year. Administrators also will see the raises recommended in the study.

The 25 additional positions proposed by Whitney include full-time graduation coaches, literacy teachers at the middle school level, an English specialist, alternative education special education teachers, compliance specialist special education and more.

“We’re committed to making sure teachers get the raise they deserve from the state and from the city as well,” Chairman Michael Debranski said.

“It’s going to be great for education,” board member Lorraine Skeeter said.

Several board members encouraged teachers, parents and students to call their legislators and request the funding increase from the state be kept intact.

After spending a day earlier this week meeting with legislators in Richmond, Debranski suggested the funding cuts school systems have endured in recent years may have had a detrimental effect on legislators’ perception of schools’ abilities.

“Virginia schools have done so well with so little that they think they can continue that, and it’s not the case,” he said.

Several board members also praised the joint meeting held with City Council last week.

“We are looking forward to continuing to work with them,” Copeland said. “I’m hoping they’re going to be an education council.”

A public hearing on the Suffolk Public Schools budget will be held at the March 10 meeting.