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Budget Shortfall Prompts “Tough Decisions”

February 27, 2014

“It’s the worst we’ve faced for as long as I’ve been here,” Michelle Caldwell said at a Feb. 18 budget meeting in light of an almost $7 million budget shortfall.

Albemarle County Schools’ budget, which stood at $164 million, is $6.68 million short of the estimated revenue projection.

Student population has increased by 669 kids in Albemarle County since the 2008-2009 school year. Each student costs about $12,000 a year, including teacher salaries, cost of the facilities and books as stated at Feb. 18 budget meeting.

The School Board voted on Feb. 13 to send the budget to the Board of Supervisors with multiple proposals to erase the budget shortfall. These cuts could mean a pay freeze for teachers, increased participation fees for athletics, and larger class sizes– creating less one on one time with students and teachers.

Increasing class size would mean adding 1.25 more pupils to each class within grades 6-12. These cuts are expected to save up to $3.3 million.

“We could be seeing classes jumping up to 26-27 or even 31-31,” Sutherland Middle School Principal David Rogers said.

While the student body has increased, the budget has stayed the same. This cost is permanent and is the same across the board except when working with economically disadvantaged students and special needs students. The number of economically disadvantaged students has increased by 1,069 students since the 2008-2009 school year, resulting in less revenue for the County as stated at Feb. 18 budget meeting.

“We’re going to have some tough decisions to make,” Thomas said in response to a concerned parent at the Feb. 18 budget meeting.

New cuts were proposed excluding the county’s Swim and Dive programs. Upon further discussion, the School Board chose not to use the three tiered system proposed by Superintendent Pam Moran, and therefore not cut the county’s Swim and Dive teams.

“I personally think that cutting this program, and only gaining back about 0.004% of the budget, is a short sighted decision for the board to make,” Sarah Heider said in a letter to the editor to the AHS Revolution.

Much of the Albemarle swim team gathered together to protest the proposed cuts on Feb. 4. In response to Moran’s proposition the swim team created a facebook group with over 570 members. Members have posted multiple petitions and written letters-to-the-editor to both the AHS Revolution and the Daily Progress.

The Board of Supervisors will meet again on March 12 to discuss the budget.

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    Albemarle County CitizenMar 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    I do not know what percentage of the budget goes towards sports for each school in the county. I do know that the participation fee is the same for football as it is for track. I do not know, but I can almost guaruntee that the budget for football is larger than the budget for track. Sure, there is the argument that football brings in revenue, but from what I understand that revenue is not shared equally for all sports.

    I propose increasing the sports participation fee proportional to budget for each sport. If track has a budget of 1 unit and football has a budget of 10 units, the sports participation fee for football should be 10 units greater than track. ( or share the revenue from ticket sales equally amongst all sports )