City of Portsmouth makes $4.3 million payment to schools

Superintendent Dr. Elie Bracy. (WAVY File Photo).

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — The City of Portsmouth has made a $4.3 million payment owed to schools. The payment comes after Dr. Elie Bracy III, superintendent of Portsmouth schools, said Friday that the school district is running out of money.

Bracy was very frank in a news conference Friday, saying the city had not given money owed to the school system. He said city council gives the school board payments every month, but the city hadn’t given the school board the $4.3 million July payment.

School officials went to the city manager, who told them she was working on a plan but that was a couple weeks ago. As of Friday afternoon, they had not heard anything since.

Bracy said if the school system doesn’t get the payment soon, it could cause them to not make payroll, furlough teachers or even not be able to open some schools when the new year starts on Sept. 5.

“We gave the city time to make good on their financial commitment,” Bracy said Friday. “A month went by, and no money came.”

He says the school system has been using federal and state funds to make payroll, but that money is starting to run out.

Just three hours after the superintendent held that news conference, 10 On Your Side got a call from city officials, who say the city has decided to immediately transfer the $4.3 million to the school system.

“I see this as a political move on their part,” Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe said. “They are sitting on $17 million worth of cash.”

But school officials say that is state and federal funding and can’t be used for day to day operations. City officials say they want to make sure money is spent properly and that the city would never let the schools not open on time.

“It is irresponsible for someone to say that the city council is neglecting the schools,” Rowe added. “These are taxpayer dollars. We want to make sure they are used of the purpose they are appropriated for and that’s to educate our children.”