Public urges Portsmouth to give more money to schools in 2018 budget

(Joe Fisher/WAVY Photo)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — More than 20 people asked Portsmouth City Council to provide more money for schools in the 2018 budget at a public hearing Tuesday.

Portsmouth Public Schools asked the city for an additional $5.4 million in funding to give all district employees raises, to add seven deans to help with discipline and to put 51 new instructional assistants in elementary classrooms. However, the city’s proposed budget gives no new money to the district.

Just eight of the city’s 19 schools are fully accredited.

Many of the speaker at the public hearing were in support of teacher raises being included in the budget. PTA President Donna Clifton was among them.

“What do you think is going to happen to our teachers?” Clifton asked. “Our teachers are going to leave … Give them something. We need something to move this city forward.”

School Board Chairman Claude Parent asked council to give the school system $1.1 million for raises to attract quality teachers and improve morale.

At a work session prior to the council meeting, it appears the city is working to reallocate funds from other sources to come up with the money for teacher and staff raises, but no final decision has been made.

Chairman: Portsmouth schools need additional funding to succeed

Even with level funding, the school system has said they would be able to add 10 addition K-6 teachers, 13 additional kindergarten instructional assistants, six technology support positions and more money for instructional supplies.

City council votes on a final budget in May.

Tuesday’s meeting was the first since Councilman Mark Whitaker was indicted by a special grand jury on nearly two dozen felony charges of identity fraud and forgery. No one spoke about Whitaker or the indictment.