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Early Notice: Dr. Walts reveals his top five budget priorities for 2019-20

Dr. Steven Walts, superintendent of schools for Prince William County, told the School Board Oct. 3 his main priorities for the 2019-20 budget will be mental health, expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE), reducing class size especially at middle and high schools, continuing pre-kindergarten programs and fair raises for all employees.

According to the Board Summary, he said, “I would be focusing the budget on these main priorities:

• Mental health, including legislative initiatives that promote staffing improvements and state funding for those professionals who help with mental health.
• Expansion of Career and Technical Education programs.
• Class size reduction is something that’s still very important to parents, kids, and to teachers. At the elementary level, I think we’re in pretty good condition but there’s certainly a number of middle school and high school classes where, if you’re a teacher and you have 33 students in your room versus 25, it makes a big difference on the kind of interaction and feedback that you can give. We are trying to continue with class size reduction and see if we can do a little bit more at the secondary level.
• Maintain our current pre-kindergarten programs. We have a substantial five-year grant that goes away at the end of this year and it would be my hope that we could continue to have those classes.
• I have only a few samples of the fistful of surveys and articles that have been published nationwide about teacher salaries. We often call it teacher salaries, but the board has a long-standing tradition of working to make sure all of our employees get fair raises each year, and it’s been very difficult with a decade-long recession. It is my hope, and again it’s a little premature, to be able to offer to propose to the Board a step increase as well as a cost-of-living increase, which would be the first time in close to a decade that we’d be able to do that too.”

Virginia School Boards do not have taxing authority. 2019 will be an election year for county supervisors who are responsible for setting rates of taxation.

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