Prince William County School Board members may be keeping their calculators close during the next couple of months.
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCS) Superintendent Steve Walts presented his proposed fiscal 2019 budget to the board last week.
The estimated $1.2 billion proposal requests a nearly 4 percent increase from this year’s budget, according to a release.
Elementary and middle school additions, acquisition of land for the division’s 14th high school, and costs associated with an Independence Nontraditional School slated to open this fall are among the proposed budget’s features.
“We built this budget proposal on the essentials needed to continue service to our students, staff, and community,” Walts said in a release. “My staff and I look forward to working with the School Board to refine this proposal into the best possible budget we can to serve our students, to let us recruit and retain the very best teachers and staff, and, most of all, to open the door to unlimited opportunities for the future of our children and our community.”
The budget sets aside $3 million for The Regional Special Education School as well as funding for technology and staff recruitment.
“It also helps the full range of learners with investments in enhancements to our gifted education program; school improvement support; and a new instructional coach who will join a team of gifted professionals already equipping teachers with instructional tools and help that measurably boosts student achievement,” Walts said. “There’s even funding for new equipment in our VEX Robotics program. That helps connect students with Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Math.”
Neabsco District School Board Member Diane Raulston was disappointed that she didn’t see funding for mental health in the proposal.
“We need to make sure that we have a nurse that has mental health training, a social worker … [who] has mental health training, because kids are kids and sometimes there’s copycat kids and sometimes there are just kids who don’t like what’s going on, and next thing you know they’ve committed suicide,” Raulston told What’s Up Prince William.
The school system, she added, could do a better job at using its money more wisely.
“I like Prince William. I think Prince William Schools are the best that I’ve seen across the country,” Raulston said. “Can we be better? You betcha. We can be much better. We can spend more money directly on students, and not on frivolous things.”
The proposed budget will be discussed tonight at a Town Hall meeting Raulston is co-hosting.
Attendees will also receive an update on Neabsco Elementary School’s overcrowding issue.
The Prince William School Board recently approved boundary changes that seek to alleviate overcrowding at the school, which uses 11 classroom trailers. Starting this fall, the school will be using three trailers.
Tonight’s meeting will begin at 7 p.m. at A. Henderson Elementary School in Montclair.
School Board members will review and make edits to the proposed budget during work sessions. A public hearing will be held on March 21 at the Edward L. Kelly Leadership Center in Manassas.
The board plans to adopt the budget after the hearing, which begins at 7 p.m.
After it’s approved, the School Board budget will be submitted to the Prince William Board of County Supervisors (BOCS), which must approve it by April 30.
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