School board abandons plans for new teachers

by Kim Robins - Posted on Apr 24, 2013 - 02:28 PM

Budget cuts will force the Gloucester School Board to abandon its initiative to hire three new elementary school teachers next fall and may lead it to cut an existing elementary teaching position. The new teachers, at a cost of $180,000, were intended to reduce the student/teacher ratios in kindergarten through fifth grade. Now those ratios may be increased.

The board had hoped for over $1.7 million in additional local dollars for fiscal year 2014 but county supervisors nixed tax hikes that would have funded the increase. Instead, the school board will receive only $261,940 in local funding for FY2014, and those funds will go toward a 2 percent across-the-board raise for employees.

School division superintendent Ben Kiser said there was a consensus among the majority of division employees that the 2 percent raise was critical.

That left the school board with $1.5 million to trim from its proposed $66.6 million budget for FY2014. By dropping its initiatives, including the new elementary teachers and two new school resource officers, and with other savings outlined by Kiser on Tuesday the board can accommodate about $1.3 of the reduction.

That still leaves about $200,000 the board needs to trim from its proposed expenditures. Kiser made 10 suggestions for meeting the figure, and the board Tuesday asked him to further explore five of them.

They include moving about 20 children in an unnamed subdivision from Botetourt Elementary to Petsworth Elementary. That would allow a teaching position to be cut at Botetourt for a $60,000 savings, a move that would raise the average student teacher ratio at Botetourt from 21.7 children per teacher to 22.7.