Schools given $300,000; must find budget cuts next year

Earlier this month, the Fluvanna County School Board was forced to vote to furlough teachers for four days to make up for the budget gap caused by unanticipated expenditures of operating the new high school building. In the end, the crowd applauded the decision of the Board of Supervisors, although it came with strings attached.

Fork Union Board of Supervisors Representative Mozell Booker made the motion to fund the schools.

“We have a lot of competing needs for our limited resources. We need to take care of fire and EMS, water infrastructure for economic development and we still have to consider school funding,” said Booker.
Booker proceeded to present information about the furlough days approved by the school board, and how it affects the average teacher salary.

In a surprising move, fiscal conservatives Shaun Kenney and Bob Ullenbruch seconded the motion.

“Finally, there has been some discussion – solid, productive discussion – between the school board and ourselves,” said Ullenbruch. “The understanding is that by voting for the $300,00 today, the baseline budget in fiscal year 2013 will be less $650,000 and $308,000. On the fifth of December, the Board of Supervisors intends to hear how the School Board will meet that. The school board will have to find $985,000 in cuts.” Those cuts may include closing Cunningham and Columbia elementary schools and cutting some part-time and full-time administrative jobs.

Rivanna District Supervisor Joe Chesser supported the motion.

“We are in a very difficult situation. To survive we’re going to have to streamline, reinvent ourselves, in order to keep us alive,” said Chesser. “We want our schools to be great institutions, we do not want to impact our teachers, we want the best teachers possible, but we cannot have everything we want. We have to quit being spoiled.”

Don Weaver, Cunningham District Representative, disagreed.

“This money is coming from the fund balance,” said Weaver. “We could be 1.7 million dollars shy next year. We’re digging a hole deeper and deeper and deeper. That’s the reason we are where we are today. I’m not going to approve something when we don’t know what the budget is going to look like in the future.”

In the end the money was appropriated by a 4-1 vote, with Weaver dissenting.

Kenney credited Booker for “stitching this together.”

She lead, and that’s not easy to do,” said Kenney. “Ms. Booker deserves a great deal of credit tonight for what [occurred].”

Fluvanna County Public Schools Superintendent Gena Keller made a motion for the school board to rescind three of the most recent four furlough days approved by the school board last week.

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