WINCHESTER — Winchester Public Schools will receive an additional $695,992 from City Council in its $61,495,595 operating budget for fiscal year 2022.
While the additional funds will help cover a 5% raise for school staff, cuts still need to be made because the $31,039,102 in city funding is about $600,000 less than the division requested.
"We don't want to lose sight of the strides we have made," WPS Finance Director Rick Miller said at Monday night's School Board work session about the 5% raise.
But the division must cut about $500,000 from its FY22 budget.
Cuts being considered are:
- $211,037 for conference travel and related travel
- $120,000 for academic after-school programs
- $94,876 for one special education diagnostician
- $40,000 for field trips
- $34,653 from an adjustment in costs related to the Northwestern Regional Educational Programs
If these cuts are approved by the Winchester School Board, this will be the second consecutive year that spending on field trips, after-school programs and conference travel have been reduced.
"What we're proposing to do is to just extend those into FY22," Miller said.
COVID-19 resulted in $1,830,272 in budget cuts for the division in FY21.
Federal COVID-19 relief funds could be used to temporarily address budget cuts aimed at after-school programs because these programs can help with learning loss during to the pandemic, Miller said.
WPS Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum said not receiving full funding from council is "normal business." But the $1,005,227 reduction in city funds during the pandemic has not been restored and it may take several years for the division to catch up financially, he added.
School Board Vice Chairwoman Karen Anderson Holman said the funding cut from the previous year must be recovered.
"We need it," she said. "As the division goes, the city goes."
A key factor for attracting new residents and businesses to the city is the quality of the school system, Anderson Holman said.
"We can't use Scotch tape and rubber bands to keep kind of holding things together," she said. "We have to make it whole."
Attending Monday night’s Winchester School Board work session at the Central Administrative Office included Superintendent Jason Van Heukelum, School Board Chairwoman Marie Imoh and Vice Chairwoman Karen Anderson Holman. Members Bryan Pearce-Gonzales, Erica Truban, Carmen Crawford, Mike Birchenough and Elyus Wallace were also present. The meeting was streamed live via YouTube.