Albemarle County Supervisors ask questions, praise parts of schools’ budget

Albemarle County Supervisors ask questions, praise parts of schools’ budget

ALBEMARLE Co., Va. (WVIR) - On Monday, the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors had its first chance to review and ask questions about the county school’s budget plan.

One of the first questions was about the new plan to replace school resource officers with safety coaches.

“What that group might look like, or how they’re trained, can you just expand on that a little bit for me?” asked Supervisor Diantha McKeel.

Superintendent Matthew Haas responded: “We’re going to be doing significant training with these personnel that we’re bringing on board.”

Those trainings will include crisis intervention and de-escalation. The board wanted to know how the price tag will change.

Maya Kumazawa, the county schools’ director of budget and planning, said the whole program is over $500,000.

Ned Gallaway, the chair of the board of supervisors, said that’s about $200,000 over what the previous program cost, which Kumazawa confirmed.

The county schools are also preparing to give teachers a 5% raise. That’s in line with Gov. Northam’s recommendation, but who’s footing the bill?

“Does the state funding also help us to support the proposed 5% pay raise for the teachers, or is that more, it sounds really good but is really an unfunded mandate for us here in the county?” asked Supervisor Donna Price.

The school division says the state doesn’t fully fund the raises but does help with about 30%.

Many of the board members’ questions showed evidence that they want students to be able to make up for in-person learning they missed because of COVID-19.

“The piece you’re doing to help those due to the last year and the changes we’ve done to kind of get kids caught back up, especially from a social and emotional standpoint, I think that’s going to be important,” Gallaway said. “So I was very pleased to see that.”

The board also revealed that its March 29 budget session will likely include a full discussion of the newly passed, and signed, American Rescue Plan, and how the county can use the about $21 million it will receive.

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