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Stafford schools present budget, but likely won’t get requested funds

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The Stafford County School Board presented its approved budget Tuesday to the Board of Supervisors and a room full of teachers, parents and residents.

Before the presentation, the issue prompted more than 25 individuals to speak out and ask: If Stafford is the ninth-richest county in the nation, why can’t it pay for schools?

People stood at the front of the room and talked about the deteriorating conditions of buses, schools, textbooks and quality of life for teachers.

The School Board is asking the board for a $19.6 million increase in local money in order to pay for new hires, rising health insurance costs, retirement costs and raises.

County Administrator Anthony Romanello’s proposed budget recommends giving the schools $5.2 million more, a number that includes $2.3 million of state money.

“There’s not a lot of fluff in this. It’s basic needs,” said Nanette Kidby, the School Board’s chairwoman.

Nina Passmore, a Conway Elementary second-grade teacher, works with children who have special needs. She has spent about $1,500 of her personal money on her students, she said.

“[It was] to build them a reading corner and to give them little rewards and incentives to keep them going,” Passmore said.

The School Board’s approved budget would raise the cost per student from last year’s rate of $9,165 to $9,968.

“That’s still less than our neighbor to the south,” Kidby said. “They pay over $10,000 per student.”

School Board members said that the increase only includes about $800,000 worth of wiggle room, since $1.8 million goes to debt services, $200,000 is designated toward expanding a special education program, and $100,000 would fund a new state requirement for educators to be trained in CPR.

“I think what you guys brought is admirable,” said Garrisonville Supervisor Laura Sellers. “I wasn’t expecting $19.6 million. I’m going to be honest with you.”

But it does not look like the School Board will get anywhere close to the amount it requested.

The board passed a resolution 4–3 changing and advertising the real estate tax to $1.019 per $100 of assessed value.

Supervisors Sellers, Paul Milde and Cord Sterling dissented.

The adjustment to the rate was proposed by Board Chairman Jack Cavalier and also called for a half-cent tax on the proposed stormwater district, a reduction in personal property tax from $6.89 to $6.61, and eliminating six positions from the budget, freeing up $441,000.

The changes would give the county $203,000 worth of flexibility.

Jessica Koers: 540/374-5444

jkoers@freelancestar.com

 

 

 

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