Valley Schools Work Around Budget Cuts as School Year Nears - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Valley Schools Work Around Budget Cuts as School Year Nears

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Believe it or not, school is just a few weeks away - but for many school leaders across our region, the summer wasn't as relaxing as usual.

The state budget battle left a lot in jeopardy and now some school districts are scrambling to get things ready for the upcoming year.

During that budget process in Richmond, we heard a lot about Medicaid expansion, about Democrats and Republicans - but school leaders say it’s the students who will really feel the effects of all that uncertainty.

“We work very hard to minimize the impact to our students but ultimately the students will feel the impact,” said Jeff Cassell, superintendent of Waynesboro Public Schools.

Cassell says he spent his summer on pins and needles.

“The uncertainty was very stressful I think for school divisions and localities,” said Cassell.

The uncertainty stems from a lengthy state budget battle that forced school leaders to put off making the tough decisions.

“Decisions that ordinarily would've been made in April and May. Things like issuing contracts to employees couldn't happen because we didn't know what the budget was,” said Cassell.

Inside the classroom, teachers in Waynesboro and other districts face bigger class sizes as the new school year gets ready to kick off. That's a big concern for Preston Martin, who teaches history at Waynesboro high school.

“The more students you have, the harder it is to do a one-on-one type situation,” said Martin.

Waynesboro schools had to drop 11 teaching positions and a Pre-K class. In Staunton, superintendent Linda Reviea says the funding cuts will hit the students.

“Where you might see that for students is they might have fewer options for electives,” said Reviea.

As for teachers, some are worried about a trend they're seeing develop.

“More paperwork, more time spent on things that are not education, and it is frustrating. It's frustrating to come into the classroom not knowing what you're going to see, not knowing if you're going to have a copier that works,” said Martin.

The superintendents in both Staunton and Waynesboro say they've mostly been able to cut teaching positions through retirements and resignations. So instead of laying people off, they're simply not replacing those teachers already leaving.

School starts in Augusta County August 20. Waynesboro and Staunton kick off their new year Wednesday August 18.

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