NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — It's the topic of conversation in Newport News, and it’s a conversation that didn't end Tuesday night with city council's vote.
City council voted to meet the school board’s funding request. Originally the city manager's proposed budget did not increase funding to schools and kept it at $110.9 million, which was $2.4 million short of the school’s $113.3 million request.
However, when city council adopted the budget Tuesday night, it included the $113.3 million from the city-- $110.9 million in operating funds plus the additional $2.4 million, but for one-time purchases outlined in the Newport News Public School budget.
School board chair Gary Hunter thanks city council for giving them the money but said it's only good for 2020, for one time.
“This is a short-term fix,” Hunter said. “We need long-term solutions to move the school system forward. Majority of our money goes to salaries, benefits, the rest goes to special programs, books, gym floors, roofs and we can't spend those funds on those things.”
Hunter said the school board budget didn't grow, and this the second year in a row city leaders kept them at level funding because they didn't get that $2.4 million budget increase.
The $2.4 million is coming from the city’s operating budget for the purchase of items in the schools’ budget.
“They did not approve it in the methods we wanted to, we did get the money needed so thank you city council for choosing one of the options, it's not favorable but it's a short-term fix,” Hunter said.
Hunter said the next step is to sit down with city council and the city manager and work towards the future.
“Let's sit down and find a long-term solution for education and building,” Hunter said.
Hunter believes Newport news can explore a revenue-sharing plan as surrounding school districts have.
He hopes the school board and city council can talk and listen to each other moving forward.
He said for now, these next several months will be crucial for the future of the school district.
“Economic development starts with our kids,” Hunter said.