Home ‘Difficult at this point to tell what that means’: Waynesboro Schools funding remains unclear
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‘Difficult at this point to tell what that means’: Waynesboro Schools funding remains unclear

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Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell provided the school board with a budget update for 2025 at the board’s regular meeting on Tuesday night.

The Virginia General Assembly had just approved a budget the Saturday before the school board met in March, and Cassell said the school system can anticipate an additional $230,000 in funds for 2025 than what the school board approved.

“While the $230,000 is a significant amount of money, it doesn’t significantly change our $52 million budget,” he cautioned the school board.

Monday was Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s last day to veto legislation and he sent back an amended budget.

“It’s a little bit difficult to tell at this point what that means exactly for us,” Cassell said.

The governor’s budget allocated an additional $98 million for at-risk youth in Virginia. The General Assembly’s budget had allocated an additional $180 million. According to Cassell, the budget shows a deduction of $82 million amended by Youngkin.

“That will be really significant to Waynesboro, because we have a number of at-risk students,” Cassell said. “And it’s a place where we were receiving proportionally more funding than school divisions of the same size or surrounding school divisions of larger size.”

Approximately $26 million of the state budget was cut for English-language learners.

“That’s a significant part of our student population as well,” Cassell said.

The state’s funding for school breakfasts was also cut by $1.5 million, but will not affect Waynesboro students because the school system provides funding for breakfast Mondays to Fridays.

“I just don’t have any way of knowing the magnitude of what that does to us,” Cassell said of the governor’s budget cuts.

He said the Virginia General Assembly could veto the governor’s budget and go with its own version of the 2025 budget. The governor’s amended budget may give Waynesboro Schools less funding than what the school board has adopted for 2024-2025.

“But that’s where we are,” Cassell said.

By the board’s May 14, 2024 meeting, Cassell and staff will know more about the state budget cuts.

Cassell said, however, that he is confident the state funding cuts will not affect the school system’s ability to provide raises for teachers and staff in the next school year. Waynesboro Schools cannot issue contracts until the city adopts a budget, which includes funding for the school system.

“Until they adopt their budget, we really don’t have a budget,” Cassell said. “So we can’t issue contracts on money we don’t have.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.