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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.

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