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‘Give us back our school,’ student says after trash threatens teacher jobs

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – In an auditorium at capacity for 200, at least 300 parents, students, and teachers showed up to lobby the Charles City County Board of Supervisors to reverse a decision that could mean cuts to county teachers, sports teams and even urgent school repairs.

“I am livid. Our schools are under attack,” said mother Rhonda.

Superintendent Dr. Janet Crawley said that the Board of Supervisors told her the school system needed to return $436,000 from this year’s school budget by March 25.

A demand, she said, that could result in her firing teachers in the middle of the school year.

“That could happen, we are going to try to avoid it,” Dr. Crawley said. “We are just hoping for a better outcome, it is stressful.”

The Board of Supervisors made this unusual demand over trash.

“I take responsibility for this every day,” Board of Supervisor Chairman William Coada told those gathered.

Supervisor Floyd Miles explained it in more practical terms.

“Because of the $900,000 shortfall from Waste Management,” Miles said, emphasizing the board needed to balance its budget.

The Waste Management dispute with the county is the reason Charles City filed a civil lawsuit against the company.

The county alleged the company is deliberately not dumping large quantities of trash into its landfill in order to avoid paying the county.

Under an agreement, the more trash the landfill takes, the more money the Charles City gets since it is allowing dumping in its county.

“They have cut us from 1,900 tons a day to 1,300 tons per day,” Miles said.

In court documents, Waste Management denied the county’s accusations.

For students like seventh grader Afrika Grooms, the dispute is  more than just about trash, it is about the future of her school.

“Give us back our school,” Grooms told the gathering.

The School Board will discuss how they will come up with the $436,000 Friday night at 6 p.m. at the Charles City High School/Middle School library.