After months of meetings and public hearings the Albemarle County School Board adopted a budget Thursday night. It required some tough decisions and $3.9 million in cuts, but the board came out with a balanced budget.
"This budget year in the five that I’ve done was probably the most difficult,” said school board member Eric Strucko.
The school board adopted an operating budget of $160,437,310 in a 5-to-2 vote.
The Albemarle County Board of Supervisors approved an increased tax of 79.9 cents per $100 of assessed value, but that still wasn't enough to fully fund the schools.
"It would have been tough to cut $2.4 million. It's doubly tough to do $4 million,” said Ned Gallaway, chair of the school board.
Those cuts will bring a proposed 2 percent increase for staff down to just 1 percent, drive up class sizes by .20 students, and result in eight or nine layoffs.
"The fact that the board felt it needed to increase class size - on principle that's why I voted no for the budget,” Strucko said.
Strucko says other cuts should come before increasing the number of students in each class. "I believe that we could have found another $600,000 in other spending categories,” he said.
But nonetheless he believes students will still receive a quality education. "We will operate our schools to the level of excellence that we're used to. It'll be more of a challenge but I have faith in our staff and particular our teachers,” Strucko said.
Looking ahead, board members say they will try to find ways to make sure they're not in the same situation next year. "If we don't come up with sustainable funding solutions or alternative ways to find revenue, we're going to be back in this situation next year, making further cuts,” Gallaway said.
This budget is now in the hands of the Board of Supervisors. There is still a chance that the schools could get some one-time funds from the supervisors before they approve the county's budget in June.
Albemarle School Board Adopts 2014-15 BudgetMore>>