Virginia Beach, Va. - “To say times are tight is an understatement.”
That`s what Virginia Beach School Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence wrote in a letter to the school board about next year`s proposed budget.
They`re facing a shortfall of about 15 million dollars.
To deal with such a huge amount, the plan for next year is to increase class sizes in all grade levels - reducing teaching positions.
The average is one student per class, but that means a class could see a bigger increase than just one student.
As a former educator and current president of the Virginia Beach Education Association, Trenace Riggs says class size makes a big difference.
“It`s hard because we know that children do better in smaller classes. Their optimal learning is much better in a small class,” says Riggs.
The PTA president says it`s challenging on teachers as well.
“It becomes increasingly more difficult when teachers are spread so thin they can`t come to an event Friday night to support the students because they`ve been stretched so thin throughout the week,” she says.
It`s unclear at this point how many teaching positions will be eliminated, but a school spokesperson says no one will be fired.
Instead, the reduction in staff is being handled through attrition, meaning as teachers leave or retire they`re not being replaced.
Some teachers will have to be moved around, but a school spokesperson says everyone will be offered a position somewhere.
The school board will hold another public hearing about the budget on March 17. It will then be presented to city council.
On April 18, a rally is being held in Richmond as well to try to increase state funding for schools. The event is being organized by the Virginia Education Association and the PTA.
Riggs says a large part of the problem with the school system’s budget is a lack of funding from the state.
You can find more information by going to the VEA’s website at http://www.goodforvirginia.org/putkidsfirst/put-kids-first.asp