The crowd assembled for the Chesterfield County School Board meeting Monday evening was accompanied by television reporters with word that racial lines were being drawn in preparing students for standardized testing. But the big news of the evening came with the financial report, after most of the crowd had left.
“We are $2.5 million out of balance,” said Brad Willard, chief financial officer for the Chesterfield County school district.
With so many changes in how schools are being funded, both at the federal and state level, Willard said, it’s hard to even guess at what the actual picture will look like. School budgets must wait on both the House and the Senate to pass legislation before they can be finalized.
“Title I funds are being meshed in and federal money is highly restricted,” said Willard. “And the rules have changed on how to spend federal money.”
The step increase for teacher salaries has been mandated for 2014-15.
“That is a cost of $750,000, give or take, plus the cost of fringe benefits such as retirement,” said Willard. That still leaves the county one step behind as there were several years Chesterfield County teachers did not receive the salary reflecting their years of experience.
“We are trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible, and looking at all options,” said Willard, referring to his conversation with Chesterfield County Superintendent Dr. Harrison Goodwin. “We’d rather present the worst-case scenario and then hope for the best.”
Those who spoke during the public comment session of the meeting defended the actions of Chesterfield-Ruby Middle School principal Dr. Andrea Hampton. They hoped to dispel any talk, truth or rumor, of asking Hampton to step down.
“The superintendent and administration have been keeping the board informed as they have been reviewing this matter,” Chairman James Sweeney said at the end of Monday’s public comment session. “They will continue to review the matter and will make recommendations to the school board. Since this situation involves a personnel matter, neither the board nor the superintendent will be able to reveal certain information. “
Nothing has changed on that since Monday.
— Reach staff writer Karen Kissiah at 843-537-5261.