Waynesboro School Board Turns to Council for Help with Funding
Every city and county in Virginia relies on the state budget to know what funding they'll see from Richmond. Without that information, it's hard to come up with local numbers.
Tuesday, Waynesboro Public Schools is struggling to balance its books.
School leaders have been working hard to make do with little money and a lack of direction from the state. But while the school board has now adopted a balanced budget, City Council members are facing some more tough decisions.
Dwindling enrollment, mandatory injections into the Virginia Retirement System, and new health care laws all mean schools just have to accept deep cuts to the system.
"So I would tell you we are operating at a minimum staffing now. Any reduction is going to be painful at this point,” said Jeffrey Cassell, superintendent of Waynesboro Public Schools.
It's a position no leader envies. Cassell says they anticipate not filling 15 staff members at the end of the academic year. Maintenance and operating costs were also trimmed, and employees shouldn’t expect a raise for 2015.
"Teachers and all employees work very hard. And I'd like to have some compensation increase. Some salaries or benefit increases that are reflective of their hard work and commitment to the quality of education in Waynesboro and to the community,” said Cassell.
Despite best efforts to compress the budget, the schools still asked for an additional $74,000 than the city's funding formula would allot. Waynesboro City Councilman Frank Lucente says he and others will do what they can to make it work.
"My personal feeling is I would be willing to give that $74,000, but not at the expense of our general fund, but they have a reserve capital fund and I wouldn't mind pulling it out of the capital reserve funds to balance their budget,” said Lucente.
Regardless of the pressures, leaders remain resilient.
"I'm fairly optimistic that we can get through this, we just have to work together. It's all about working together,” said Lucente.
Once lawmakers finally reach an agreement at the Capitol, it is possible additional funding could trickle down to Waynesboro schools and other divisions - but leaders say it is wise not to bank on that.
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