Norfolk School Board fails to vote on budget, may ask city for more money

(Joe Fisher/WAVY Photo)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk School Board already planned to ask city leaders for an additional $9.5 million in funding for next year’s budget, but after Wednesday’s work session they’ll likely be asking for even more.

The superintendent proposed a $328 million budget, which is larger than the current budget and includes cuts to teacher positions and an increase in health premiums and retirement benefits.

Dr. Melinda Boone says the main reason for the cuts is shrinking enrollment. Projections predict a loss of 800 students over the next two years due to factors like decreased birth rates to the ever-changing military population.

Under the plan, 44 teaching assistant jobs would be added, but there would be cuts to more than 60 full-time positions, including 34 teachers.

Norfolk schools propose cuts to more than two dozen teacher positions

But even with the cuts and adjustments, the division still needs $9.5 million.

At Wednesday’s meeting, about 20 people complained about teacher layoffs, cuts to the gifted program and lack of reading and math specialists.

The school board was supposed to vote on the budget Wednesday night, but four separate motions were put on the table — and they all failed for a lack of a second. Board members agreed to meet next week to revisit budget priorities again.

Dr. Noelle Gabriel, board member, says she wants full funding for math and reading specialists; as well as all music, art and physical education teachers even if it means an increased gap in funding.

“We realize every teaching position is very precious,” said Gabriel. “These are not wants. These are truly needs.”

The school board must approve its budget before April 1. The proposal must then be voted on by the Norfolk City Council.