Petersburg budget crisis clouds first day of school

Posted at 3:57 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 16:11:19-04

PETERSBURG, Va. -- As students head back to class on the first day of school in Petersburg, their parents and administrators said they are concerned with the state of the city's budget woes.

The City of Petersburg is $2.8 million behind on its payments to the school system for the 2015-2016 school year.  Public records showed the city missed their January 2016 payment entirely.

On top of that, in August, a consulting group hired by the city recommended a reduction in school funding by $4 million, among other suggestions.

During his first year as superintendent, Dr. Marcus Newsome traveled to eight schools to greet teachers and students Tuesday morning.

Dr. Marcus Newsome

Dr. Marcus Newsome

“The city certainly has its challenges and schools will be impacted by that, and everyone’s going to make sacrifices,” Newsome said.

Tuesday night, city council will vote on a budget and then Newsome will realize how deep the cuts will be.

“This is new territory. Only time will tell,” Newsome said. “I can’t tell you specifically where we are going, I just know our priority is maintaining integrity in the classroom.”

Parents and guardians outside of Walnut Elementary told CBS 6 they’re worried it’ll impact their children.

“I'm thinking it’s affecting school at this time,” Tomeca Bynum, parent to a kindergartner, said. “It’s affecting leadership and it’s affecting the kids. I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed at Petersburg at this time.”

Newsome wouldn't go into specifics when asked if layoffs or program cuts will be considered, but he said they are working on a plan. He said the decision will ultimately be made by the School Board.

Petersburg residents will be able to make their voices heard during a public meeting Tuesday, where council members will vote on proposed budget cuts.

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