MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – Montgomery County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Bernard F. Bragen Jr. and his team are having to adjust their budget after they won’t be receiving what they asked for from the county.
On Monday, the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors approved a new real estate tax rate of $0.70 per $100 of assessed value. While some people in the county will be paying less in taxes, the school division is left with less money than what they hoped for.
“When you ask for $6.1 million and we’re going to get a little over 2.4, that’s a significant reduction. When you’re talking in millions of dollars that’s not just savings on supplies and things … that’s people,” Dr. Bragen said.
When originally asking for $6.1 million, these were some of the things the division was hoping to fund:
- 5% salary increase for all employees,
- 4 new full-time athletic trainers,
- 2 additional school counselors/mental health professionals,
- 4 full-time custodians.
One of Dr. Bragen’s concerns is people working with the county who are non-school employees are getting a 7% salary raise with the new budget. Bragen says he still hopes to give his staff the raises they deserve but still says it’s unfair.
“How am I going to look our teachers in the face and say well if you work for the county government side you’re getting 7% but if you work for the school board we can only give you 5%. I don’t think that’s fair,” Dr. Bragen said.
Dr. Bragen is not alone in this fight. School Board member, Linwood Hudson, said the county continues to grow. More and more students continue to join the Montgomery County School family.
“Every year there’s the largest class size that the school has ever seen coming in…constant growth, constant growth. Our budget needs to reflect that growth and so I’m definitely disappointed,” Hudson said.
It’s still undetermined what will change in now the revised school budget. Bragen said he understands why people want lower taxes but it’s hard to improve when the funding isn’t there to back it up.
“You can’t not fund it and think things are still going to go well,” Bragen said. “At best you may be able to maintain the status quo but you’ll never be able to grow. I want us to be the number one district in Virginia.”