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School superintendents: ‘It is time to be alarmed’

Superintendents and other education representatives from all 133 school districts in Virginia held a press conference this week to announce the budget reduction strategies they are considering to address proposed state and local budget cuts. 

Increased class sizes and cuts in programs and services are chief among the options they are considering, according to a survey conducted by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) in which over half of the superintendents responded.

Among the superintendents who responded:

  • 89% said that they are considering increasing pupil:teacher ratios.
  • 91% are considering cutting teacher positions.
  • Half are considering bud-get cuts in programs such as summer school remediation, assistance for at-risk students, and education for 4-year-olds to name a few.

To minimize the negative effects of the budget cuts on the quality of education, the superintendents requested that the Governor and the General Assembly do the following:

  • Delay new state mandates such as the new graduation requirements, the implementation of a Financial Literacy course, and the development of middle school career plans.
  • Maintain the number of school support personnel currently required by the Standards of Quality.
  • Allow local school boards to retain their authority over charter schools in their districts and oppose vouchers and tuition tax credits that further drain money from education funds already being proposed for cuts.

Painting a bleak picture of the net effect of proposed budget cuts on Virginia’s school districts, VASS President and Superintendent of Suffolk City Public Schools Milton Liverman said, “It has been suggested that it would not be inappropriate to say that we are now facing a ‘Doomsday Budget.’ All you have to do is look at the drastic actions being considered by the superintendents in the Commonwealth.  None of us want to make any of these cuts, but this is our current reality.  If the term ‘Doomsday Budget’ sets off an alarm—good. It is time to be alarmed. “

For a copy of the survey questions and responses and the press conference remarks, contact the VASS Office at (434) 924-0568 or .

posted 01.20.2010

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