Reporter: Mark Kelly l Videographer: Ira Quillen
Campbell Co., VA - Strong words Thursday from the Superintendent of Campbell County Public Schools. "We are at a crossroads," said Superintendent Robert Johnson. And a packed house Thursday of parents and students at an evening informational meeting know the $5 million budget gap there is very serious.
The writing's been on the wall for the district for some time now. Superintendent Johnson explained that this problem has been years in the works. State and local funding has fallen off, while expectations stay the same. Thursday, everyone heard the worst-case scenario.
As revenue dries up, Campbell County Schools remain on the offensive. They've closed two schools, cut 129 jobs and fixed only what's broken. Superintendent Johnson says now they need $5 million just to make ends meet.
"I'm here today to tell you we've cut all we can cut without the school looking very different than it looks today," said Johnson.
Without the money, half-day kindergarten, bigger class sizes, and cutting extracurriculars can all become the new reality for Campbell County.
One student doesn't like what she's hearing.
"Education is very important," said Courtney Chapman.
Twelfth Grader Courtney Chapman dreams of being a teacher, but fears what budget cuts are doing to the school she loves.
"And I don't want to see that stuff happening to the kids. I don't want to see that stuff happening to the teachers or the school building. Supervisors don't need this stuff. Principals don't need it," said Chapman.
They may not want this financial stress, but it's real. Parent Shannon Ringo says the district has room for improvement.
"I think the school's done a pretty good job as far as looking into it. But I think there's still a lot of variance where they can save a little bit more money," said Ringo.
But, saving money and losing quality is a fine line. And many worry Campbell County could end up on the wrong side.
"I don't want our school system to look like those you hear about in other areas of the state," said Johnson.
The $5 million the district wants from the county is just to keep the school operating as is, meaning no raises, no new programs.
If you want to weigh in, there's going to be a public hearing May 15th at 5:30 p.m. at Rustburg High School.