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Updated: Wednesday, 06 Mar 2013, 9:32 AM EST
Published : Tuesday, 05 Mar 2013, 5:18 PM EST
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - Norfolk city leaders will soon decide how much taxpayer money will fund public education next fiscal year.
Thomas Calhoun with the Norfolk Federation of Teachers said Tuesday evening's School Board meeting at Crossroads School in Ocean View is critical for anyone with an interest in the city's economy.
Calhoun said schools drive the economy and Norfolk has some roadblocks. He said when a family is looking to buy a home, they're going to research local schools. Currently, Norfolk has 14 schools that failed accreditation.
"If schools do badly, do [families] stay there? No. They'll go to Virginia Beach," Calhoun said.
He said city leaders need to make bettering the school system a priority.
"Not a library, not a new court house, not a hotel, not light rail," Calhoun said.
The superintendent's proposed budget, to be discussed Tuesday evening, would give teachers a two percent raise. It also points out healthcare costs will rise 10 percent.
"Anywhere between four and five percent [for a salary increase] and cover the cost of the insurance premium," Calhoun said.
The only way for Norfolk Public Schools to get back on top is for citizens to demand it, Calhoun said.
The school board is ultimately responsible for writing a budget and sending it to city council members. Calhoun said the power lies within voters. Residents elect the city council members who in turn appoint school board members.
NPS face an $18.4 million budget shortfall for the 2013-2014 school year.
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