With less funding than requested, Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent Steve Walts announced deep cuts to the school division’s proposed budget May 6.
He proposed about $35.9 million in cuts to spending for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1.
“Unfortunately due to the pandemic, I am recommending items for your consideration, because cuts are going to be very large,” Walts told the school board during a meeting held online due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The board approved a $1.3 billion budget on March 18 as the coronavirus had already closed schools. County funding since then came in $35.9 million less than requested and state funding was cut by $17 million, both due in part to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The county will cut $10.9 million from proposed employee pay raises. School division employees will see a 2.8% pay increase, instead of the 4.8% proposed in the initial budget.
The proposed cuts include deferring hiring of central office positions, but the division still expects to hire an additional 155 teachers in the next fiscal year. The division is also adding five social workers to bring the division’s total to 46 and adding three guidance counselors to bring the total to 330.
Walts said the board’s priorities moving forward will include focusing on how to prepare for the possibility of required remote learning in the next school year 2020-2021. A phone survey to families and other outreach completed in April found that 30,000 of the division’s roughly 91,500 students said they do not have access to a computer at home. Walts said families should reach out to their schools if they did not receive the phone survey and their child needs access to a device.
The school board agreed to schedule a work session to review proposed cuts to its budget before meeting to consider budget adoption May 20.