Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. has proposed a balanced Operating Budget focused on ensuring equitable distribution of resources among students and improving standards of excellence, both in the classroom and for school facilities.
The requested $285.5 million Operating Budget, which funds the operational costs of the school division, is a smaller percent increase than last year but still supports competitive staff salaries and new textbooks.
The budget proposes adding positions in targeted areas to ensure schools have the supports necessary to meet the needs of all students and ensure their success. This includes adding staff at select elementary schools, two positions for student services, a Title I coordinator, and a communications specialist to ensure ADA compliance of ACPS and school websites.
The budget also proposes adding six full-time positions and one part-time position recommended in the Students with Disabilities Evaluation. It also proposes purchasing secondary math textbooks in 2020 and creating a cycle of textbook renewal to ensure consistent delivery of instruction to all students. These additional supports are aligned with this school year’s introduction of School and Department Improvement Plans for every school and department aimed at ensuring schools get the supports and resources they need to see all students succeed.
“This budget is about meeting the needs of all our students and meeting them where they are. It is essential that equity — and creating equitable learning environments— is a pillar of this budget and supports almost every aspect of it in some way. It demonstrates our commitment to ensure all students are engaged in a high quality educational experience and receive the necessary supports and services needed to succeed as well as our commitment to collaboration with the City in achieving this goal,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Furthermore, the budget takes steps to create an equitable standard of cleanliness and repair across all school facilities by outsourcing custodial services and adding three positions to the Educational Facilities Department. This non-negotiable expectation will become the new ‘ACPS Standard of Excellence’ for all of our facilities. It also adds preventative maintenance funding to the budget to support school maintenance.
To support research that the quality of teachers, administrators and staff goes hand in hand with the quality of education that ACPS is able to deliver, the superintendent’s budget also calls for a one percent market rate adjustment in addition to a full step increase in pay for staff. This will allow ACPS to be more competitive with school divisions across the D.C. metro area and continue to attract, recruit, grow and retain exemplary staff. In addition to these salary enhancements, funding has been proposed to conduct a third party compensation study for administrators and other employee groups. To offset the market rate adjustment, ACPS is recommending changes to the design of health care benefit plans, including an option that provides staff more flexibility in controlling their health care costs. Staff would have more options in choosing health care plans based on their own health care needs and those of their families, which can have a direct impact on their take-home pay.
The budget also proposes 11 positions aligned with enrollment growth. While ACPS is not projected to grow as rapidly next year as it has done in the past ten years, it is still expected to see more students, including a higher number of English Learners, students who are eligible for free and reduced price meals, and students with disabilities.
The City Manager will announce his proposed budget on February 19, of which the school’s funding is a part. The School Board will adopt the Approved Budget on February 21 and the Final Budget on June 6. The City will adopt their budget in early May.