By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press
The Virginia Senate and House presented their budgets two weeks ago and normally would vote before adjourning, but the school system received word last week that both chambers “are not going to be able to reach an agreement on the budget” this Saturday.
“That really just puts a hold on our budget process,” said Dr. Jeff Cassell, superintendent of Waynesboro Schools, at Tuesday’s regular board meeting.
Cassell said that the Senate proposed a budget which includes a 5% state-funded raise for teachers, but the House’s budget proposes a 4% raise. The House’s proposed budget also eliminates school construction funding.
“What we’re told from Richmond — [discussion is] not all about education,” he said. “There are other issues on which the Senate and the House disagree.”
The school system was expecting $1.9 million in state funding, and the elimination of that funding for school construction would greatly affect Waynesboro Schools’ proposed budget for next year.
“The question is how it gets funded,” Cassell said.
By Waynesboro City code, the schools superintendent must present a budget to city council by the fourth Monday in March, but Cassell will not have state budget information in time for that deadline. He said he spoke with Waynesboro City Manager Mike Hamp that he will proposed to the city the budget he presented to the school board in February, and will amend the budget later with state funding information.
“It’s still going to be pretty tight,” Cassell said of preparing the budget by the end of March even if the Senate and House vote on Saturday.