Albemarle Leaders Optimistic about New Budget

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After years of cutting back, Albemarle County leaders are feeling optimistic. 

Just this year, schools were forced to cut six new positions due to a $600,000 shortfall. But if the current positive economic trends continue, next year's budget could mean new investment. 

The current county budget went into effect less than a month ago, which means it's time to start looking ahead to the next budget cycle. At a joint planning session Thursday afternoon, Albemarle supervisors and school board members shared their goals and hopes for the coming year. 

"We're both serving the citizens and the children of Albemarle County, so obviously we have an inherent partnership and an inherent need to work together," said Albemarle County School Board Chair Stephen Koleszar. 

After years of doing more with less, next year's Albemarle County budget could bring with it a measure of relief. 

"There is an optimism that we may be able to make some new investments this year if the economy continues to improve," said Albemarle County Supervisor Ann Mallek. 

Schools are bound to benefit from any new investments. Funding has seen a decline for the past several years, and just now is getting back to 2008 levels. 

Koleszar says more new investment in things like elementary foreign language would be a win-win for the county and schools. 

"We feel that in the modern global economy, if our students are bilingual or close to bilingual it's going to give them a tremendous leg up in the competition," Koleszar said.

Mallek said new funds could also likely go toward languishing capital improvements projects. But this is merely the beginning of a very long process. Planning next year's budget will extend through the winter.

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