Tuesday night was full of good news for Waynesboro Public Schools.

After the annual Celebration of Service to recognize teachers and staff retiring this year, the Waynesboro School Board met in William Perry Elementary School’s library.

“There’s actually good news tonight in the budget,” said Waynesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Cassell.

The school board offered a balanced budget for 2019-2020 to the city council on March 25 that would give teachers a 3 percent raise, but would also necessitate the need to cut staff.

“And I think we have to not lose focus of [the 3 percent raise]. We knew we’d have to make some reductions in order to do so,” Cassell said Tuesday night.

Cassell said he had previously estimated 15 teaching positions would need to be cut from Waynesboro Public Schools, but only five teachers retired this academic year, and two administrator retirements. The next fiscal year begins July 1.

With only five teacher retirements, Cassell said he and staff had to begin to look at positions that will be left vacant due to resignations, which are usually teachers just getting started in their career.

“As of yesterday, we believe we can balance the budget by reducing 15 teaching positions and seven instructional aide positions,” Cassell said of eliminating 22 full-time positions in Waynesboro Schools.

Some part-time positions will be eliminated and others will be reduced.

Cassell said he was pleased with the community support shown at the Waynesboro City Council public budget hearing Monday night. Many community members spoke during public comment in support of providing more funding for the school division.

The city needs to take care of public safety, such as police, fire and rescue, and public education, is what Cassell said he heard were concerns among the community Monday night.

With public education, the school division was already planning to provide teacher raises.

“But it is at a cost of a number of positions,” Cassell said.

Cutting staff, according to Cassell, will increase the number of students in each class and change student schedules.

However, then he provided the school board and audience members with good news.

“No one who currently works at Waynesboro Public Schools will not get a contract next year because of budget cuts,” Cassell said.

So far all cuts necessary were identified through retirements and resignations. Transfers are possible, but few are anticipated, he said.

In other news:

» The school board approved curriculum for Kate Collins Middle School’s Program of Studies Tuesday night, which Kate Collins Middle Principal Josh Herndon presented to the board at its regular meeting in April.

» As of July 1, per the trend in other school divisions, members of Waynesboro Public Schools with the title of director or coordinator will have a title change to Executive Director. For example, Dr. India Harris, Waynesboro Schools’ coordinator of secondary instruction, will become the division’s Executive Director of Secondary Instruction. Dr. Ryan Barber, the division’s Director of Student Services, will become Executive Director of Student Services.

» William “Tim” Teachey, principal of Waynesboro High School since 2008, will replace Sue Wright as Director of Instruction as of July 1. Wright is retiring.

» Wayne “CJ” Van Devander III joins Waynesboro Public Schools as Coordinator of Valley Academy, and Dr. Donald Gregory Harris will become principal of Westwood Hills Elementary School. Westwood Hill’s Principal Renae Deffenbaugh is retiring.

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