Superintendent to introduce budget

Published 10:26 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney will introduce his proposed budget at Thursday’s School Board meeting.

Though he has yet to announce details of what will be his proposed 2019-2020 fiscal year budget, Whitney gave a hint of what he plans to include in it during a recent work session.

At that time, Whitney said he would prioritize raises for teachers, bus drivers and support staff. The current budget is $168.1 million, which includes $86.4 million from the state and another $59.8 million from the city.

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Gov. Ralph Northam’s two-year budget provided a 5-percent raise for teachers, but by state law, it required matching money from local school divisions. Because Suffolk Public Schools included a 4-percent raise for teachers in its current budget, it is required to add an additional 1-percent raise to get to the 5-percent mark, according to SPS Finance Director Wendy Forsman. Bus drivers and other support staff must receive step raises along with a half-percent cost-of-living adjustment, she said. A 1-percent raise for teachers would cost $750,000, while the increase for support staff would be $967,000, according to Forsman.

Whitney, while not yet revealing his recommendation, said he plans to go above the minimum requirement to provide raises for teachers and support staff.

His other priorities include paying for a secondary out-of-school suspension center to be located at two of the division’s schools, restorative practices training, instrument repairs and replacement, a backup system for the school division’s servers in the event of a disaster, the Excel instructional program, the second of seven yearly payments to Isle of Wight County for the College and Career Academy at Pruden property and supporting field trips for students.

Also on the agenda, the School Board will also receive its monthly update on the corrective action plans for Booker T. Washington and Mack Benn Jr. elementary schools. Both were denied accreditation in the 2016-2017 school year and were accredited with conditions for the current school year.

Booker T. Washington’s focus has been on providing support in English (grades 3-5), math and science (grades 2, 4 and 5), while at Mack Benn Jr., the focus has been on grades 3-5 in English and grades 2-3 in math.

To read the complete School Board agenda, go to The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m., but will go into a closed session to discuss personnel and student matters before resuming the public meeting at 7 p.m.