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PW Supervisors may cut $9.3 million from schools, defer tax and budget decisions to May 6

Prince William County Public Schools would receive $9.3 million less than needed to cover the School Board’s unanimously approved FY 2017 budget under a flat tax plan and revenue sharing cuts being considered by the Board of County Supervisors, according to a PWCS news release.

The Board of County Supervisors (BOCS) reductions jeopardize a school funding plan that combined increased state revenue with dollars expected from the county’s approved five-year plan to begin reversing the impact of years of forced PWCS belt-tightening since the economic downturn.

The school spending plan includes $6.9 million to cover the cost of increased student enrollment; $18.5 million for pay increases to help retain top teachers and staff; and $6.2 million to cover higher debt from continuing school construction. Nearly $13 million was included for new teachers and instructional staff to support continuing efforts to reduce the largest class sizes in the Commonwealth, and to serve critical unmet needs of a wide array of students.

Any reduction in funding from the Board of County Supervisors would force equal cuts to school spending. The BOCS plans to meet again to determine both the tax rate and the allocation of funds to the School Division on May 6.

Virginia law requires the School Budget to be finalized by May 15. The County Budget was originally scheduled for approval on April 29. Mounting delays may create challenges involving contracts and other school business.

The size of any pending cuts remains unclear. The School Budget was created to balance with revenue anticipated under the average 3.88% county tax bill increase contained in the county’s approved five- year plan, and the subsequent guidance that county finance officials sent to PWCS. The BOCS is now considering keeping the tax rate flat, at a cost to the schools of $7.2 million.

Additionally, supervisors are exploring reductions to the longstanding revenue sharing agreement with PWCS. That agreement currently provides 57.23% of county revenue for education. A new proposal would cut that to 57.0%, taking an additional $2.1 million from PWCS in the coming year.

Current state and local funding levels have put PWCS lowest in per-student spending on education than any other jurisdiction in the Washington metropolitan area, said the news release.

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