Suffolk Schools adopt new budget despite frustration from teachers, bus drivers and parents 

Posted at 4:50 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-19 11:03:58-04

SUFFOLK, Va. - Suffolk's School Board adopted their budget for the upcoming year totaling $160,985,420. The operating budget totals $141,333,300. An additional $11,380,000 was approved for grants and food services cost total $8,272,120.

This number is a 2.6% increase from last year's budget.

School Board members adopted this version of the budget, knowing they would be asking for an additional $2M from City Council, unsure if they would be granted the additional funds.

According to the finance director, the budget comes with a raise of at least 1% for all teachers and administrators. On average teachers are seeing a 2.4% increase.

However, the 1% raise across the board means after the Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney already received a 13% raise last year, he will get another raise this coming year.

There will be an evaluation of Whitley later this year by the school board who will officially set his salary then, but at least a 1% raise is currently in place with the new budget.

He left the board meeting today before we were able to talk to him but our News 3 is hoping to follow up with Dr. Whitney later this week.

Teachers, though they are getting a raise, told News 3 their health insurance costs are going up and they will not bring home any raise amount.

Related: News 3 investigates: Superintendent vs. teacher salaries in Hampton Roads public schools

More than 100 teachers packed into the school board meeting this evening, many having to leave work early because the board would not make the meeting later.

The board also refused to allow any comments or feedback from the hundreds of teachers, aides, and bus drivers in attendance.

Creekside Elementary teacher Natalie Street commented to our News 3 crew, "Dr. Whitney did not teach my students, I taught them Advanced Proficient every year for six years on SOL tests."

Parents are discouraged, saying they know their children's favorite teachers will leave. "We love you, my boys love you and I will continue to support you and I will continue to fight for you. Please stay because our children need you and they deserve you," said parent Patricia Holloman.

Children were also in attendance in peaceful protest holding signs saying 'when I grow up I can't afford to be a teacher.'

5th grader Elizabeth Rozell said "I want to join the Navy but first I need a good education so I can be an officer. We need teachers with good paychecks to do that."

Chairman of the Board said he understand teacher concerns, but his 'hands are tied,' and cited that teacher have gotten a raise the past three years which is better than the years without a raise.