Combined Budget Focused on Capacity and High Academic Performance
On Thursday, Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley presented the FY 2017 Proposed Combined Funds Budget at a total of $278.9 million focused on high academic achievement for a growing student population. The budget includes funds for critical student supports, staff compensation, and the capacity solutions required to address imminent space constraints as directly aligned to the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan.
Student enrollment continues to be the primary driver of costs in the budget and is projected to increase by 3.7 percent in FY 2017, taking ACPS to a total of 15,270 students next year and nearly 19,000 students by FY 2026.
“We are firm in our belief that a key to student success is having a high quality teacher in every classroom, fully prepared to deliver excellent instruction. Given our growth and the complexity of student needs within our division, we need more teachers across all grade levels, enhanced instructional programming, and professional learning for all staff. These supports advance our goal of achieving academic excellence and educational equity for all students; and also maintain Board-approved class sizes in our elementary schools and state-mandated student-to-teacher ratios in our secondary schools,” said Dr. Crawley.
The Proposed Operating Budget of $256.9 million is a $10.5 million increase over the current year, plus an additional $6.1 million to lease two new school facilities—an elementary school in the West End and a centralized pre-kindergarten center—as included in the FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Program Budget adopted by the Alexandria City School Board in December, 2015.
“Every child deserves to be educated in an optimal learning environment and, even though funding for new facilities beyond FY 2016 has not been approved by City Council, this budget takes a first step towards finding creative solutions to the capacity issues we face,” said Dr. Crawley.
The budget also provides the necessary resources to support student success and wellness with additional nursing and mental health professionals, increased teaching staff for students with disabilities and limited English proficiency, and an enhanced model for family engagement and community partnerships.
For ACPS employees, the budget includes a full step increase for all eligible staff, focused market rate adjustments, and the City of Alexandria’s current living wage as a new minimum rate. These changes are necessary to fulfill the ACPS2020 Strategic Plan goal of attracting and retaining the best and brightest staff. Additional funds are also needed to cover increased benefits costs for next year, including state-mandated retirement contributions.
The budget increases are offset by reductions and other efficiencies including the elimination or realignment of positions; reduced spending on teacher substitutes, third-party contracts, and transportation services; as well as compensation savings through turnover and other benefit adjustments.
In order to continue our strong instructional focus while addressing significant capacity concerns, an increase in City funding is required. The operating budget includes a total City appropriation request of $210.6 million or an increase of $11.8 million for next year. With this level of City funding, the appropriation per student would increase for the first time in over five years.
“This budget reflects input from community members, advisory committee meetings and councils, parents, students, and staff. The budget addresses the priorities established by the Alexandria City School Board, and it places the required resources in the classroom. I firmly believe that it gives our students the best opportunity to succeed,” Dr. Crawley said.
The School Board will hold a series of budget work sessions on the FY 2017 Proposed Budget beginning on Jan. 21, and a public hearing Jan. 28. Details on the budget, including the full schedule of work sessions and public hearings, may be found at this link. In addition, the public may submit comments and questions using a link on the same web page.