Schools to cut $30M more from budget

The School Board was set vote on a proposal to cut another $30 million and 135 full-time positions from next year’s budget on Tuesday, April 27.

Superintendent Marcus Newsome’s recommended revisions to the fiscal 2011 spending plan, which was approved on Feb. 23, were outlined in a memo distributed before the Tuesday meeting.

The approved spending plan includes $26.4 million in budget cuts and eliminates about 190 positions, but school officials identified another $16.5 million in cuts that would be made if the school system didn’t receive more funding.

At an April 1 meeting of the budget and audit committee, T. David Myers, assistant superintendent for business and finance, said all of the “second tier” cuts except the additional 2 percent pay cut for staff would be implemented, cutting another $9 million. Another roughly $1.5 million in savings would have to be found to eliminate the remaining shortfall, he said.

According to the memo, the approved spending plan was based on a request to the Board of Supervisors for an additional $16.2 million in county funding. On April 14, the supervisors adopted a budget allocating an additional $6.7 million of prior year savings to the School Board, it says.

Because of the supervisors’ action, the School Board must cut another $9.5 million from its approved spending plan, the memo says. The budget must be further reduced by $20.9 million to reflect the final action of the General Assembly, it says.

“Nearly $20 million of the reduction is due to lower [Virginia Retirement System] and Group Life Insurance rates adopted by the General Assembly,” the memo says.

The remaining $10.8 million in proposed reductions include 135 positions, 117 of which were listed in the “second tier” cuts in February. The additional 18 jobs are the 18 security monitor positions that were added to the approved budget when the number of school resources officers was reduced.

Cutting the 135 positions would save roughly $6.1 million, according an attachment to the memo.

The proposed cost-saving measures also include: cutting the School Board contribution to the dental plan by half, saving $950,000; reducing safety net funding by $780,000; reducing textbook funding by $506,500; and cutting athletic and academic supplements by 15 percent, saving $375,000.

The proposed cuts do not include an additional pay cut for employees or reduced leave payouts, which were on the list of “second tier” cuts presented in February.

“It’s a very difficult time for our school division,” school spokesman Shawn Smith said Friday. If the school system loses 300 positions this year, it will have shed about 600 jobs – or 8 percent of its work force – in two years, he said.

“The reductions in our work force are going to require the school division to take an important look at the future of our school system in Chesterfield County,” Smith said. “Chesterfield County Public Schools as we know it today will change.”

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