Albemarle Supervisors Hold Final Hearing on School Budget - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Albemarle Supervisors Hold Final Hearing on School Budget

Posted: Updated: March 27, 2013 10:48 PM EDT

The current school funding situation in Albemarle County means at least $600,000 in cuts - and that number could go up.

While the budget covers all aspects of county government, the fight came down to taxes and school money.

There was a less-than-stellar turnout Wednesday evening for Albemarle's final hearing on the budget. But those who spoke out had quite a fight in them. 

One speaker, Charlotte Hoge, stated "It's the same old song I've heard for years."

"Our obligation as a community is to our children," said teacher Tracy Allio. 

Supervisors have proposed a tax rate increase by four-tenths of a cent, which would cut the school division's $1.2 million budget shortfall in half. 

"We cannot continue to fund and fund and fund and fund and fund without a stronger effort to make difficult cuts," said Carole Thorpe, a member of the Jefferson Area Tea Party. 

There was an even split between those speaking on each side. Those against a tax bump said they're already taxed enough and a yearly school division budget surplus doesn't help the cause. 

"What about that overage? Year after year - I've been here 12 years - and every year there's overages in the school budget. But there's a parade in front of you. More money, more money," said Jim Stern, a member of the Albemarle Truth in Taxation Alliance.

School leaders say if they have to cut a half-million dollars from the budget, nine teaching positions will likely be on the chopping block from the middle and high school, as will cuts to programs and services for at-risk students. 

"Your investment in education has been money well spent," said school board member Diantha McKeel. 

Supervisors will have the final say - though they too are split at this point. 

The tax rate will be set and the budget will be adopted on April 3.

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