Superintendent to unveil budget

Published 9:28 pm Monday, February 17, 2020

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Suffolk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III will unveil his proposed budget, expected to include money for pay increases for teachers and other division staff members, at Thursday’s School Board meeting at Col. Fred Cherry Middle School.

Gordon has indicated at various public forums and meetings since he became superintendent last October that he would increase the budget due to the needs of the school division.

At several forums last fall, Gordon said, among other things, that the division needs new schools to be built, and that there needs to be conversations about mobile classrooms, rezoning and a new high school, which he cautioned could be costly.

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“I’ve already told our city manager (Patrick Roberts) … that I’m going to ask for a lot,” Gordon said. “We need the money.”

During preliminary budget discussions in December, needs such as increased pay for teachers and support staff, as well as increased stipends for coaches and some club sponsors, were identified. Division staff, according to the division’s Executive Director of Finance Wendy Forsman, held meetings with a group of six teachers to discuss three different options for pay scales, with teachers choosing a percentage increase between steps on the salary scale, as opposed to options that included an increase based on a flat dollar amount per step, and one that took into account how Suffolk Public Schools compared in salary to the rest of the region.

Forsman said then that bus driver pay would increase from $12.80 to $14 per hour, which she noted would take Suffolk’s pay in that area higher than the region average.

In those discussions, Forsman said according to the composite index, the city will have to pay slightly more in the 2020-2021 fiscal year because “the state has determined we can cover more of the costs for education.” The composite index is something the state uses to determine a school division’s ability to pay for its own needs.

The current $173.3 million budget for the division included a 2.25-percent raise for teachers, a half-percent raise and step increase on the pay scale for support staff and a 1.5-percent increase for permanent part-time staff.

Other items on the agenda include:

  • An ordinance to update the division’s policy on portable communication technology devices. The policy would update it to include the types of devices, as well as permitted uses. The ordinance was originally adopted in 2002 and updated in 2016.
  • Proposed summer school program for elementary, middle and high school students, as well as a proposed Standards of Learning Academy and an Extended School Year Program for special education students.

The complete agenda can be found at

Thursday’s meeting will take place in the auditorium of Col. Fred Cherry Middle School at 7401 Burbage Drive. The board will meet at 5 p.m. to go into a closed meeting before resuming the public meeting at 7 p.m.