Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues
‘Painful’ cuts on the table for Stafford schools
Stafford County’s School Board sat down tonight with a list of 47 suggested budget cuts.
“This is a sad list to me and I know it is to you,” Superintendent Randy Bridges said, holding the sheet of paper in the air.
The list includes hundreds of positions, a so-called “pay to play” option and furlough days for staff.
But School Board members declared many of the suggestions “untouchable.” Because of rising health care and benefits costs, the county has to come up with $18 million just to provide the same level of services next year as this year. School Board members have also declared giving teachers a raise as a priority.
So the board members need to come up with about $18 million in cuts, if not more.
But in the two-hour meeting, members couldn’t agree on much to cut.
They said that getting rid of positions would be “painful.” They also expressed unwillingness to charge families so students can participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities.
“It’s an ugly job we’re doing here,” said Dewayne McCosker.
School Board members were supposed to give Bridges and his staff direction in where to make cuts. But Bridges wasn’t getting much direction.
“By the time you get to the end of it, you’re going to keep everything on the list and you’re still $18 million short,” he said.
School Board member Patricia Healy said that she understands how difficult the decisions are.
“But we’ve been here for two hours and we’ve cut maybe a couple of hundred dollars here, and we need to cut millions and millions of dollars,” she said.
Suggested cuts include: reducing teacher stipends for afterschool activities; reducing computer technicians and trainers, paraprofessionals, math specialists, ESL teachers and assistant principals; cutting the Learn and Serve program; cutting tuition assistance; limiting furniture replacements; and postponing new textbook adoptions.