Reporter: James Gherardi
Chatham, VA - Pittsylvania County Schools are now scrambling as their budget deadline looms to fill an unfunded shortfall. The County's Board of Supervisors has agreed this week to only reimburse the school system for half of what they paid. for education requirements under the Comprehensive Services Act. This funding is for special needs children that the district cannot educate.
As the superintendent put it, the bills have been paid, and the schools now need to be paid back.
"Looking at a $525,000-$550,000 shortfall with regard to a lack of funds puts us in a very precarious situation financially," said James McDaniel, Pittsylvania County Schools Superintendent.
In an agreement with Pittsylvania County, the school system pre-pays for the education of special needs students. But the school system says they pay only with the assumption that they'll be reimbursed. Now, that reimbursement may not come.
"If this decision stands, we will have to look at our budget and see where we can come up with that kind of money at the eleventh hour of our budget process," said McDaniel.
The budget must be finalized by the end of the month. Originally the school system was anticipating a check for $1.5 million from the county.
"The board of supervisors voted to only reimburse them half of that and retain $525,000 of it because of the cost of having to pay the $250,000" said Pittsylvania County Administrator Dan Sleeper.
The county owes the state for what they over-paid in Comprehensive Services Programming back in 2008. The county says this time, they plan to pay their part for the program, and nothing more.
"It's probably the most costly thing the state of Virginia does outside of highways," said Sleeper.
The School Board and County Officials are meeting Monday to determine the final funding figures. The superintendent says without the money they had planned for from the county, they may have to cut already from next year's budget.