Portsmouth schools to close preschool building, eliminate positions

(WAVY/Lavoy Harrell)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Portsmouth Public Schools say that budget cuts for the 2017-2018 fiscal year will force them to close one preschool building and eliminate positions.

In a news release issued Thursday, the school district said the budget proposed by the school board and superintendent sought to improve technology, give more instructional support for kindergarten students and expand the career and technical education program.

“We also desperately wanted to give our hard working teachers and staff a raise in order to keep up with the cost of living as well as to attract and retain talented staff,” the release reads. “But we rely on city funding. We pleaded with city council to provide the money that our children, staff and schools need. Despite our advocacy, the city council voted against our request.”

The district says the cuts will mean they will fall short of many funding goals. Despite this, staff will receive a two percent raise. To provide for those raises, 15 full-time positions will be eliminated, while other positions will be adjusted, school officials say. Schools are also ending ties with the city’s Children’s Museum and shutting down the planetarium program there. Additionally, one preschool building will close. Children will be assigned to other centers.

School officials have not said which preschool building will close.

“These changes will place additional strain on the school division, but we will make every effort to ensure a smooth transition,” the news release continues.

The school district says this may not be the end of budget cuts and if there are more, programs and services will have to be reduced each year.

“We fear this will hinder our progress, but we have no choice,” school officials say in the release. “Moving forward, we will continue to advocate for school needs and do our best to convince city leaders to support public education.”

This is a developing story. Stay with WAVY.com for updates.