Federal budget could impact grant-funded positions at local schools

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Norfolk Public Schools hopes to learn the fate of 400 positions in the district this week, as Congress is set to make a decision on the budget.

The potential loss of a federal grant could put those positions on the chopping block for the 2018 school year. If Congress cannot fund a federal budget, it could have an impact on local school employees. 10 On Your Side obtained a letter to employees who hold grant-funded positions at Norfolk Public Schools.

According to the spokeswoman for Norfolk Public Schools, the letter was intended to put people on notice for the 2018 school year. Everything is funded for the remainder of this school year.

The letter from D. Timothy Billups, Executive Director of Human Resources, states in full:

“The purpose of this communication is to inform you that the position in which you serve Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) is grant-funded and paid for with monies from a designated grant. The year-to-year continuation of any grant-funded position is contingent upon the availability of designated grant funds.

You are receiving this notice due to the uncertainty of the continued funding of many federal grants in the budgetary process. Loss of or a decrease in grant funding could result in a reduction or elimination of some positions. Should this occur, please know that proper guidelines pursuant to and in accordance with applicable NPS School Board policies and regulations would be followed.

Please know that we value your service to Norfolk Public Schools. If you have any questions, you may contact me at 628-3905.

Congressman Bobby Scott says it’s tragic that the school has to send out letters but the district is doing its “due diligence.”

He says, “Most of the education budget from the federal government is in Title I or Impact Aid, both of which highly affect Hampton Roads. If you cut the funding, you have to cut positions and most of the school budget is in personnel. We are very concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the schools in the Hampton Roads area.”

10 On Your Side’s Laura Caso called all seven Hampton Roads school districts to find out if they too could potentially be impacted.

Unlike Norfolk, Suffolk Public Schools has not sent out letters to staff holding grant-funded positions. The district will wait to see what federal funds are reduced and act accordingly at that point.

Newport News Public Schools tell 10 On Your Side that right now, it will not be affected and they’ve made adjustments in the proposed budget.

A spokeswoman with Virginia Beach says to date, it has not received notification about any loss of previously awarded federal grant funding. Chesapeake also had the same response.

A spokeswoman with Portsmouth Public Schools wrote, “It’s possible. We have to wait until the White House budget is finalized.”