Colonial Beach avoids school budget cuts — for now

COLONIAL BEACH, Va. – Colonial Beach Town Council passed a resolution Monday that would fund Colonial Beach schools at same level as last year, at least for the first quarter of next year. That means proposed school budget cuts that many people turned up to speak out against will not happen — at least not yet.

Leaders in the town of Colonial Beach met with the community Monday to discuss those proposed cuts to the school system’s budget. Town council had proposed cutting funding of the independent school district down to the state minimum.

“We’ve known this is coming for several years.  We tried to push for a little bit of a tax increase, but no one would go along with it,” said Colonial Beach mayor Mike Ham.

Some people who attended the meeting were concerned the cuts would be so severe that the school system would have to fire teachers and cut sports teams.

“I think it would destroy the town really.  It would be a town for retirement,” said school board chairman Tim Trivett when asked what losing an independent school system would mean to Colonial Beach.

In January a fire destroyed a historic Colonial Beach school building now used for storage. School board members said certain members of Town Council have used the fire to turn operation of the schools over to Westmoreland County.

Town Council member Jim Chialerro said no one is against the school system, but added the council cannot pay for critical infrastructure in town unless they start spending money smarter.

“When you start to count the beans, there are no more beans left,” said Chialerro.

Students at Colonial Beach Elementary currently go to class at a nearby church while town leaders decide where they will be permanently placed.  A previous version of this story said they were in modular units.

CBS 6 reporter Jake Burns attended the meeting and filed this report for CBS 6 News at Noon.

11 comments

  • Ron Melancon

    If they will simply enforce the car tax and address why do people on EBT cards or Food Stamps don’t pay food taxes but it is they who place demands on local services

    • Robin Baker

      You state that these budget cuts don’t “hurt people” but rather teach them to live within their means. You do realize that the people you are speaking of range in age of 4-18, right? These cuts directly affect my child and all the other children who attend Colonial Beach Schools. They affect their ability to receive the best education possible, to have the best teachers and support staff available, and to have access to transportation, sports and academic programs.
      You may not wish to pay for another person’s child to receive an education, but remember that somebody paid for your education. Someone cared enough to teach you. Remember that the education and future of these children ultimately will affect your future as well. They may one day be your doctor, your accountant, etc. More importantly, they will be our future voters and tax payers. The choice is clear, FUND OUR SCHOOLS & FUND THE FUTURE OF THIS TOWN!!!

  • Stephen Higgs

    As a an alumni of Colonial Beach School class of 1996, I can recall the town raising money for a new High School. I how that my home town can see the value of a great education. I hope the own will not just rely on typical means to raise money and build a new school. When home buyers look to purchase a home they always look at the quality of the school system. I believe Colonial Beach should have a great school system. I am afraid for the future of the town if we turn that responsibility to the County. I also can see county taxes increase if that does happen. I love my town and proof of where I grew up.

    • Tim Curtin

      Mr. Higgs, you are intimately aware of what the people unfamiliar with the history and legacy of the town posting here fail to realize. This is not about food stamps, car taxes or personal responsibility. It’s about wresting control of a tourist town that had no problems supporting itself and the schools when you and I were growing up here back from the people that have been slowly killing it trying to turn it into a retirement community.

  • Veronica Reynolds

    The students are NOT currently in modular units. They were in modular units prior to the fire, but they are now temporarily housed at the Oak Grove Baptist Church. Also, town council cannot “hand over” operations of the school. Only the board can do that.

    • Tim Curtin

      Veronica is correct. In fact, another thing missed in the story is how the fire, in spite of how tragic it was is an example of the current council’s inaction on this issue. The school board presented a plan for relocation of the modpods next to the old high school (shown in footage of the fire) last year as part of a proposal to have all students relocated to the High school campus. It was a more detailed version of a proposal the school made to the council the previous year. If council had began the funding process via the bond issue now in play back then, those students that were displaced by the fire would have already been relocated to the High School campus. Continued inaction by council, due to a minority of members that have steadfastly opposed any movement on this issue continue to hold this whole effort in limbo. If council had taken the second round of proposals seriously, the schools would be poised to begin moving those modpods and putting that plan into action right after classes end this Friday, in plenty of time for the beginning of classes in September. Instead, there still is no plan that is fully funded. It is conceivable that those students, currently in classrooms in the Oak Grove Baptist Church will be back there come September if funding issues are not resolved.

  • Tim Curtin

    The reporter did not stick around long enough to get the “big picture”. This a problem that has been 30 years in the making. Beginning in the early-mid ’80s, some of the people that migrated to Colonial Beach merely to retire began exerting influence via people they elected and/or appointed to council and other bodies (Planning Commission, Revitalization Group to name a few) in an effort to remake a place founded at the turn of the century solely for tourism and recreation into a retirement community. Along the way, they were able to get the town to incur public debt to buy up virtually all the downtown area zoned exclusively for resort-commercial activity. This same group of people, who have no roots here or any perspective or respect for what was once a solid working-age, working-class blue collar town have continued to exert influence via people like the council member interviewed on camera to thwart any real effort to return those properties back to the private sector where they could generate income via real estate taxes and business activity. The decline of the town, and its ability to fund its infrastructure (of which the schools are a big part, but only one piece of a community that was doing just fine until this group came along) can be traced directly back to when the migrants that moved here looking for a retirement community with cheap waterfront property started coming here in droves. Unless their efforts are stopped via their replacement on the council and various boards and commissions that dictate short/long term policy decisions by pro-tourism, pro-business and pro-development people that understand the town’s legacy as a tourist town this will keep happening until a great little town is no more.

    • Tim Curtin

      If anyone reading this would like to help, you can go to thepetitionsite.com and type “Save Colonial Beach Schools”. You can then sign the petition, and join the hundreds that have already voiced their support. You can also visit our facebook page, titled “Save our Schools-Colonial Beach School”.

  • Robin Baker

    You can help support our cause by visiting us on Facebook @ www. Facebook. com/savedrifterpride or search “Save Our School-Colonial Beach Schools”

    You can also sign and share the petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com and search “Save Colonial Beach School”

    Thank you to everyone who has shown their support!

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