Community push for more school funding intensifies in Newport News

Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 23:13:26-04

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - On Thursday night, the Newport News City Council heard an earful from educators and parents pushing for more school funding.

One after the next, community members stepped up to the podium, telling council their thoughts on the suggested budget.

"I don't want to resent my students. I don't want to resent my school. I don't want to resent the writing tests, the essays - I just want to teach," one teacher and mother says.

As it stands, City Manager Cynthia Rohlf is proposing $900 million for the 2020 fiscal year. She says it "meets the objectives of funding pension and health care obligations, support to schools, debt payments, maintaining infrastructure, and providing a salary adjustment to employees."

News 3 took a look at the numbers, and they're broken down into eleven categories, including general fund, school operating fund and waterworks.

You'll notice, however, that school funding is set to stay the same, despite the school board asking for $2.4 million more.

Newport News Education Association Executive Board Member Mary Vause says when the schools don't get money, the students are the ones who suffer.

Related: School Board votes to add two more guidance counselors inside Newport News schools after teacher push

"We would just like the city to share that [money] with the schools because our children are our greatest resource in Newport News."

Some council members, including Mayor McKinley Price, believe there are other ways for teachers to get more pay without increasing the budget. He says they could come from existing funds like the surplus.

"We think there's ample money there for them to do a 2% raise and to take some of that money they're spending on capital improvement projects for us to give that to them later in the year out of our capital improvement budgets," Price says.

Two public hearings have been held for people to voice their concerns so far.

The council is expected to vote on the budget sometime in May.