Newport News parents and school leaders keep up fight for increased funding


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – The budget battle in Newport News continues between the city council and school board.

The total recommended operating budget for Newport News is more than $900 million.

Earlier this year the school board voted to ask council for $2.4 million to go toward the schools’ operating budget, but the city manager requested to keep the same funding from last year — with no increase. 

On Tuesday, the city council and school board will have a joint meeting to discuss the contested school budget.

Parents say there is a lot at stake, and this is the time to be proactive about our students’ future.

“Public education is the great equalizer that can lift children out of poverty,” said Mary Vause, a teacher and parent in the school system.

She’s been adamant about increasing school funding, attending the last few public meetings to address the issue.

“They are funding parking garages and tech centers, but they are not funding our kids, that doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Vause says they asked for the increase to fund school resource officers, new teachers and increase teacher pay. In a recent meeting, city leaders then suggested using funds from the capital improvement budget to fund the requested increase

“Our children deserve more than level funding, they should be able to get an investment from their city,” she said.

City council member Dave Jenkins calls this suggestion and others as fiscally irresponsible in a social media post:

“Whether the CIP funds being promised to the schools come from the 80 percent debt services or the 20 percent cash capital I just don’t see how this can be suggested as a source of an additional 2.4 million when we do not have the funds to even complete projects we have in the budget and other needs of our city.”

When we reached out to City Manager Cynthia D. Rohlf’s office, 10 On Your Side was redirected to her earlier statements in her letter to city council.

Vause hopes in this meeting on Tuesday, the superintendent will open the ears and eyes to the potential the city has with increased funding

“We are all just really hoping that city council will be open to his message and to hearing about how to better invest in our school system, which is going to pay off for the city in the long run,” she said.

To read Jenkins’ full Facebook statement, click here.

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