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Editorial: School budget a positive first step

Posted on Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

The season of municipal budgets is upon us.

Next week, the Hanover School Board is expected to send its $170 million budget forward to the county level for consideration. Later this month, the county will unveil its overarching spending plan for all departments.

Budgets, in general, are sort of the spreadsheet heart of government – they set the tone for the year to come and reflect a governing body’s attitude and philosophy. We haven’t seen Hanover County’s full plan yet, but look forward to its release the last week of February.

We have gone through the school system’s budget plan. It will be back before the school board Tuesday before it makes its way down the pipe. As we expressed in this space last week, the school budget is, for the most part, a step in the right direction. It shows investment in the classroom and in existing school personnel by adding 18 new teachers and implementing a division-wide pay increase.

This budget, however, lacks in bricks-and-mortar funding, perhaps the result of the flat growth forecast for the division. While the superintendent’s capital improvement plan provides funding for maintenance projects and upgrades at many of the school system’s facilities, it is definitely modest compared to years past.

If we were to be forced to make a decision between a fresh coat of paint in a classroom and a well-qualified instructor to man the classroom, we would definitely choose the latter. In a perfect world we would have both. We only hope the school board is asking for what it truly needs and not compromising.

Again, we applaud the gains made in the school system’s plan and hope they continue on an upward path in years to come.

We urge the board of supervisors not to alter the school board’s funding request when it comes to them for approval.

We would also encourage concerned citizens to weigh in before these spreadsheets become set in stone.