Contentious budget talks at Spotsylvania Co. schools end with cuts

Budget fights at Spotsylvania County Public Schools in Virginia ended Monday night with the new fiscal year’s budget narrowly passing. While many positions were spared after heated debate, some were still eliminated.

Ultimately, the school board passed the fiscal year 2024 budget in a 4-3 vote.

Last month, Superintendent Mark Taylor detailed options for cuts. They included the possibility of cutting 60 teachers, eliminating the Governor’s School Program, and even doing away with school libraries, which are required by law in Virginia.

But those cuts were ultimately left out of the final budget. The new budget cuts about a dozen support staff, like speech pathologists, social workers and psychologists.

The board debated and experimented with the budget for nearly three hours, with a goal of keeping as many elementary and special education paras as possible.

The recommended cuts included axing all 23 elementary paras, and 15 of the 30 special education paras.

The board cut five elementary and 11 special education paras, but kept the majority by cutting over $400,000 from stipends for athletics and academics, as well as custodial staff.

The school system could get additional money from the state in the coming months that may fund many of these positions and drastically alter the county’s budget.

State legislators in February advanced a “skinny budget.”

Gov. Glenn Youngkin had asked for four amendments to that bill. The amendments have all been passed by the Virginia General Assembly, but the bill has not been signed by the governor.

“So, there is no state budget right now,” said Taylor. “The projection we have is that likely won’t change before June.”

“We need a preliminary approval from the board of a budget plan of finance so that we can move forward with contracts and teacher contracts and other engagement of staff. So we can look forward to a successful upcoming school year.”

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Luke Lukert

Since joining WTOP Luke Lukert has held just about every job in the newsroom from producer to web writer and now he works as a full-time reporter. He is an avid fan of UGA football. Go Dawgs!

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