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School board makes philosophical change in approach to budget

“What a different conversation than we were having at the beginning.”

That’s how Mathews County Superintendent of Schools Nancy Welch summed up discussion during Tuesday night’s work session on the 2021-2022 budget, as the school board moved from a bare-bones proposal that included school consolidation and possible classroom layoffs to one that calls for salary increases, no consolidation of the county’s elementary and middle schools, and no reductions in staff.

In normal years, board chairman John Priest said, the school board has gone ahead with a budget of what the division would like to have in the coming year, and then adjusted it downward once cuts had been made by county supervisors. He pointed to such things as the 3- and 4-year-old preschool initiative as one of the cuts made in years past, as well as proposed new positions that then had to be eliminated from the final approved budget.

This year, he said, “we’ve developed the budget the other way around,” starting of...

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