Schools, City, County to talk budget at joint meeting Friday

abogues@vagazette.com

JAMES CITY — Williamsburg City Council, the Board of Supervisors and the Williamsburg-James City County School Board will convene Friday for a joint discussion on the school division's 2017 budget.

The fiscal 2017 W-JCC operating budget passed by the School Board is about $128 million.

"I think it's about an honest dialogue between funding partners and the educational community," said Kyra Cook, vice chair of the School Board. "I anticipate there will be time for the funding bodies to ask questions about our operational budget."

Much of the budget discussion for all three public bodies this year has surrounded school building needs, including the project to build a fourth middle school at the James Blair site, which the Board of Supervisors voted to finance earlier this month.

Parents, students and teachers at Lafayette High School have also advocated for an auxiliary gym at the school, saying shutting down the current James Blair gym will create an additional burden for student-athletes at the high school.

While there's no funding plan in place for the project, both Cook and James City County Administrator Bryan Hill said there will be a comprehensive look at building needs throughout the school division in the upcoming year.

"As it relates to facilities, we're going to be on the same page for future buildings," Hill said.

"Once we complete the strategic plan, we can move forward with a thoughtful discussion. We're just trying to get our master facilities plan, it's not going to happen at this meeting, but it will be in place by the end of the next fiscal year."

This year the county administrator proposed funding roughly 78 percent of the request for funding made by the school division. The county faced challenges for education funding after the state raised its local composite index score, a tool the state uses to calculate the amount of funding it will provide to localities, decreasing state funding by 1.2 percent. Overall, county funding for the school division increased by 3.8 percent over FY 2016.

James City County provides about 90 percent of the school division's yearly operating budget and the city kicks in the remaining 10 percent.

"I am pleased with and grateful for the county administrator's proposal to his board. The state essentially claims that James City County could afford more, they basically increased the burden on the county this year," Cook said. "It made the situation more difficult for the county this year. I think Mr. Hill did a great job," Cook said.

Bogues can be reached by phone at 757-345-2346.

Joint Budget meeting

The meeting will be held Friday in meeting room 127 in the Stryker Center, located at 412 N. Boundary Street, Williamsburg Va. It begins at 9 a.m. and is open to the public.

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