School Board approves budget

Published 10:38 pm Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Suffolk School Board unanimously approved a $173.3 million budget at its meeting Tuesday at The College and Career Academy at Pruden.

The 2019-2020 budget includes a 2.25-percent raise for teachers, a half-percent raise and a step increase on the pay scale for support staff, and a 1.5-percent increase for permanent part-time staff. The budget is a 2.85-percent increase from the current 2018-2019 budget of $168.5 million.

Even with a slight drop in the state’s compensation supplement, the raises would still happen as originally proposed, according to Executive Director of Finance Wendy Forsman.


Email newsletter signup

Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney’s original proposed budget had called for six additional school counselors, but with a change in the state budget decreasing some revenue categories by nearly $500,000, the approved budget now includes money for just 1.5 school counselors. It also includes money for an additional career and technical education teacher.

The Excel Academy, in the approved budget, would receive $264,335 to staff it with two teachers — one for reading and another for math — and two teacher assistants to serve 30 students.

Dr. LaToya Harrison, assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum, said the program would serve fifth- and sixth-grade students who are struggling academically in traditional classrooms, and it would be housed in one of the city’s five middle schools.

The budget would also include $81,499 for the Focus OSS Center, a program to allow students who receive an out-of-school suspension, or OSS, to continue their learning. Parents would be required, according to Whitney, to drop off their children at 7 a.m., with a bus returning them to their home school at 1 p.m. That program would be housed at Forest Glen and John Yeates middle schools, Whitney said.

Board member Tyron Riddick said he is concerned about the transportation component of getting students to and from the Excel Academy and the Focus OSS Center programs. Whitney acknowledged the programs would impact transportation but said the programs are needed, even with potential transportation issues that he said could be worked out.

“I feel strongly about these programs meeting the needs of students,” Whitney said.

The budget includes a requested $1 million increase in the city’s allocation, from $59.8 million to $60.8 million. The state allocation would be $90.1 million, as passed by the General Assembly and awaiting Gov. Ralph Northam’s signature.

The budget now goes to the City Council, where it will hold a public hearing in May on the city’s budget that includes the school division’s budget, with the final adoption of the budget also scheduled for May.