Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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More details on Stafford schools’ budget cuts

Here is Wednesday’s story about last night’s budget work session.

I thought I’d give a few more details about the budget option board members are now considering. There are still a lot of unknowns out there. For example, the option mentions cutting 47 positions but there has been no word on what those positions would be. Board members have requested that those not include teachers. But teachers make up about two-thirds of Stafford County Public Schools’ staff, so it would be hard to make such a cut without including teachers.

Last night, board members learned that a little bit more than 300 employees leave Stafford County Public Schools each year. But without knowing which positions could be on the chopping block, it’s not clear if the 47 positions could come simply from attrition.

The cuts in the option under consideration include all of the “moving forward” items originally proposed by Superintendent Randy Bridges. These include hiring more teachers, a 2.5 percent pay raise for employees, and hiring another ESL coordinator.

Other cuts include: reducing conferences by 50 percent, reducing consultants, suspending tuition assistance, reducing food purchases, giving staff a furlough day, removing summer school, reducing furniture replacements and charging students $100 per year to participate in extra curricular activities.

A little bit more about the “pay to play” option: School Board members are looking at three scenarios for this. The first is charging $100 per student for Virginia High School League sports and activities only. This could save the county $150,000.

Another option is charging $100 per year for all middle and high school students in any activities. This could save about $1.5 million.

The third option is charging $100 per year for all high school students in any activities. This could save $909,300.

These options didn’t include waiving fees for students receiving free and reduced lunches. And there was no option which included charging for elementary school activities. School Board members asked Bridges to come back with details on both of those scenarios.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these proposed cuts and the school budget in general. Feel free to get in touch: or 540/735-1973.



  • Two

    How about we start with cuts at the Administrative level before we cut the poor teachers’ salaries through furloughs. Take a look at the bloated salaries at the top, starting with the Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents. Then start looking at the Principles and Assistant Principles. The teachers should be the last ones you look at. Get rid of the waste and duplication in the system and you will have enough money.

  • Peter Koehler-Pfotenhauer

    Sounds like they are where Spotsy was a few years back and facing similar choices. There are no good choices. Residents need to talk to Speaker Howell and Senator Stuart and get the General Assembly to fulfill it’s constitutional obligation to properly support quality schools.

  • Grace Newton

    How about bringing back the business tax this bunch voted out. Good schools cost money. Stafford is the only county in the area without a business tax. It’s time for Stafford County companies to start helping pay for the infrastructure they’re using. 

  • John Bryant

    Stafford seventh richest county in America and they can’t afford to give teachers a raise? It tells the average man what the county thinks of education and the importance of it.  

  • xofon

    Great ideas, but wouldn’t an independent assessment of our schools by an unbiased entity enable understanding of what right looks like?  There are lots of opinions out there, how about establishing a benchmark so elected officials and  leaders make informed decisions and parents (taxpayers) have a better appreciation that the right thing is being done.   We may need to cut – but where? How much? Some areas may need more – what are they?  I’d rather read about informed decisions versus the agenda driven budget rhetoric most of our elected
    officials (SB and BOS) are currently spouting about our schools and funding.

  • xofon

    No business tax equals business growth, just ask the BOS.  Our steady growth in the business sector has nothing to do BRAC or the growth of MCB Quantico; it’s the lack of
    business (BPOL) taxes – and the low airplane tax doesn’t hurt either.

  • rikkirat

    Un freakin’ believable – I’ve been paying a ton of taxes in this county for years… I’d like to know that I’m getting something for my dollar… even though I’m paying out I’m not getting half the perks those in PW, Fairfax or other counties offer their residents… every other service this county offers stinks… but you’d think at least I could get some comfort that our schools and teachers are well taken care off… obviously they’re not… although, as someone pointed out, we’re among the wealthiest counties in the US, we’ve got a 3rd world attitude toward important things like schools.  There’s NO excuse… to me this points to severe severe mismanagement and/or corruption somewhere in the county/school “leadership”.

  • rikkirat

     And how is that benefiting all of us?  BTW I’d love to see where you get your information… because… I’ve read otherwise.

  • Hugh Barber

    Which businesses are you (specifically) referring to?  Don’t see any businesses that hire folks and pay a “living” salary to their workers that came here because of the lack of a Business Tax. And the Stafford “airport” is a joke. If the low airplane tax is so great, then why aren’t FedEx or UPS setting up shop here?

  • Stacey Burns Feindt

    How about charging for summer school instead of cuttining it out? And elementary after school activities aren’t  in the plan to be cut because, we parents, pay for each one already.

  • $44514486

    Virginia’s support of education is horrific.  VA is the 7th wealthiest state and treats education as an annoyance and not a priority.
    Our teacher salary ranks 44th in the nation.  Stafford’s total support on a per pupil basis ranks 118 out of 132 school districts with local support way below state average. 

    VA support of education is even bad at the college level.  VA Tech gets more revenue from out of state tuition (30% of the students) than from the state.  That limits the number of well qualified VA students who can attend.  Florida for example caps the out of state students at about 5%.

    How can Florida afford a “Bright Futures” program where students with a B average in HS get free tuition at any state university.  Several other states do the same.

  • Stacey Burns Feindt

    Oh wait this article says “ there was no option which included charging for elementary school activities” . HA! As I said above, we DO pay for these. I have a basketball afterschool permission slip right here beside me. $25 for 6 total hours of instruction. Transportation not included.

  • $44514486

    FYI, the number of teachers, librarians, ESL staff, principals, assistant principals, to name just a few are determined by student population at ratios defined in VA Code.  FYI, VA has the 10 highest student enrollment of any district in the state. You don’t attract and retain qualified staff and teachers with salaries that are not competitive with the region. A teacher with just 3-5 years experience can go to PrWm and make $10K-$12K more.

  • $44514486

    Furthermore, there are audited activity funds (non-taxpayer funds, just mom & dad out of pocket expenses) at each school.  They generate a total of $6M in revenue in activity fees per year.

  • Stephanie Travers

    Let me start with full disclosure: I am a Stafford County homeowner, parent of 2 SCPS graduates, SCPS elementary teacher, Virginia tax payer, and concerned citizen.  No one likes to pay a lot of money and feel like they are not getting what they paid for. We moved to the county in 2002 and purchased our home specifically for the reputation of the school system and the safe, clean, growing community we found in Stafford. We have both benefited and been burned by the housing  market fluctuation but we remain hopeful for the future.  I believe that we need to look ahead as a community- what is good for our county?  I would like to see good schools, safe communities, prosperous businesses, quality of life amenities (parks, transit opportunities)– things that make us say how happy we are to live here, how proud we are of our community!  These things take money at times.

    I agree that we need to be responsible stewards of our resources but we also need to make investments in our futures.  I am afraid that we are so against raising taxes at all costs, that we are being a “penny wise and a pound foolish” so to speak.

    Good schools, infrastructure to support growth and advancement, transportation opportunities, and secure communities are all features that draw people and businesses to our area. Those people bring tax income, retail income, real estate income, intellectual as well as financial wealth.  We teach our children to look to the future and make wise choices. I think the adults should look beyond the “I will not raise taxes” mantra or the “cut all spending” mantra and make the choices and sacrifices needed to keep Stafford upwardly mobile, prosperous, and safe.

  • 4Dana

    Here’s a fact for you, Dean. Out of our 17 elementary schools – ONLY 1 qualifies for having an Asst Principal. According to code, a school must have 900 students for it to be mandatory. We have an Asst at every elementary, but only one school qualifies.