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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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School board mulls possible budget cuts
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Lee Cheatham

Friday, March 29, 2013


The Franklin County School Board was presented with three options for possible budget cuts, ranging from $219,427 to $1.5 million Wednesday evening.

School Finance Director Lee Cheatham offered three scenarios that depend on the amount of real estate tax increase the supervisors approve in the county budget next month after a public hearing.

The first scenario, based on no tax hike, would leave the school division with a $1.5 million shortfall, Cheatham said.

Ranking the cuts in terms of impact on instruction, the most serious cuts in this scenario would include cutting four resource teacher positions ($259,127) and cutting three technology resource teachers ($150,000).

Other cuts in this worst-case scenario include pay-to-play fees for athletics and marching band ($56,450), a 30-percent cut in athletic supplies ($33,000), a reduction in the number of slots in the Roanoke Valley Governor's School by 12 ($49,152), and the restructuring of a special needs program at Benjamin Franklin Middle School ($76,829).

Also, five social worker positions would be cut ($295,652), individual school budgets would be cut ($97,334) and the gifted and talented program would lose 20 percent of its funding ($12,750).

Under the second scenario, which includes a one-cent tax hike, the school board would need to cut $846,676 from its budget proposal, Cheatham said.

Possible cuts in this scenario would include the loss of the four resource teachers and three IT resource teachers, just like the first scenario, as well as eliminating four social workers ($236,522) instead of five.

The cuts in governor's school slots would be the same as the first scenario, as would the cuts in the special needs program at the middle school.

The third scenario is based on a two-cent tax hike and would leave the school division with a shortfall of $219,427, Cheatham said.

The three IT resource teacher positions would still need to be cut, along with the cuts to the special needs program at BFMS.

"We are getting less support from the state, so more is being asked from the community to make it up," said Bill Brush, Gills Creek District board member.

"It's a hostile situation," added G.B. Washburn, Snow Creek District board member. "People want good things for our kids, but at the same time, they don't want taxes to go up."

A public hearing on the county budget is set for April 16.

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