Albemarle County Public Schools have eight days until their budget is supposed to be approved – now, we're getting a better look at how they hope to close that nearly $4 million gap.
The county has to adopt a spending plan for the coming year next Thursday. With parents and teachers waiting on a decision, we're learning it could be the students feeling the effects from this budget crunch.
“I think they have reason to be worried. I think it's going to be very difficult for us to get to $3.9 million without touching either compensation increases for employees or touching class size,” said Dean Tistadt, chief operating officer for ACPS.
Tistadt says, in the past, budget cuts have mostly stayed away from the classroom. This year he says that's going to be hard to avoid.
“If it continues we're going to have to go into schools, we're going to have to go into classrooms, and that's going to be very unfortunate for the students and for the community overall,” said Tistadt.
The school system released a list that breaks down potential areas to save money. The two categories that would save the most are teacher salaries, meaning lowering the increase they get, and raising class sizes, meaning the school system would lose teaching positions.
Albemarle County has proposed cutting as many as 42 to 43 teachers.
"The teachers have not had salary increases in five years and, of course, that's in the same time period that inflation has made everything cost more,” said Anne Geraty, teacher at Meriwether Lewis Elementary.
Geraty teaches gifted education at Meriwether Lewis. She says she's most worried about class sizes.
Phil Giaramita, a spokesperson for Albemarle County Schools, says core classes could increase by as much as three to four students next year.
"That's the largest concern, that the budget gap will result in cutting teachers in order to make class sizes larger,” said Geraty.
We'll have a much better idea of what cuts could be in the works after Thursday night when the school board has a work session scheduled to iron out some of the details.
Click here for the full list of potential cuts.
Reported by Sean Cudahy