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Residents question Hanover County’s budget cuts, deficit

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – Inside an old fire house, preps are underway to respond to a different kind of emergency.

“It’s kind of a creeping disease and its finally caught up with us,” says Hanover resident, Ragan Phillips. He’s describing the school system’s $5.4 million budget deficit. Phillips is with the newly formed group, Friends of Hanover Schools.

The group is looking to keep the fire burning that’s been seen at all school board meetings this year as parents express their disdain for the superintendent’s budget cuts.

“This county is a very wealthy county and they should be on top of education,” says one parent.

The group is asking people to e-mail, call and even text county leaders in addition to showing up at board meetings. “I’ve been in the Hanover school system for 15 years and I haven’t said the word boo… until now,” says one teacher.

Less than a mile away, Hanover superintendent,  Jamelle Wilson, along with board members, were talking about ways to find common ground with the budget, which calls for an additional class for high school teachers, cutting up to 45 full-time employees and one issue upsetting students, requiring them to pay in order to play a sport.

“It would take a lot of time and a lot of money I don’t have for it,” says a student.

County leaders say the current budget recommendations will keep even more teachers from losing their jobs, but Hanover residents say there are other options. “Truth is, we are one of the wealthiest counties in Virginia and with a low unemployment rate to solve our own problems,” said one teacher.

Some parents are recommending the county increase the real estate tax which is one of the lowest in the region.

Board members must present its budget plan to the Board of Supervisors by February 19.