COVID Closure Daily Update for Wednesday, May 13

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Day 38 — Budget Special

On Friday, May 8, 2020, I presented our proposed Revised FY 2021 Budget for the coming academic year. Establishing budgets are never easy and require prioritization even when the economy is strong. During these unprecedented times in our history, we must determine budget items to reduce in order to adapt to the budget shortfall from our city, local, state and federal appropriations.

The one area that has not changed since I presented our initial FY 2021 budget in January 2020, is our student-centered priorities for the coming academic year. For example, we still have the same need to see academic improvements in the area of K-2 literacy that we had before the pandemic. Furthermore, we still have the same need to increase our outreach to families and improve our Hispanic graduation rate and reduce our chronic absenteeism. Our FY 2021 budget priorities for 2020-21 academic year therefore remain essentially the same.

Our City Manager has recommended that city appropriations to ACPS be reduced by $7.4 million (PDF) for the 2020-21 academic year and the city council approved this reduction on April 29. In addition to the reduction of our city appropriations, we must keep in mind that our local, state and federal appropriations will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn. In light of this, ACPS will need to reduce our Combined Funds FY 2021 Budget by $11,709,700.

In ACPS, 87% of our Operating Budget is made up of staff salaries. It also includes health care costs and benefits. The remainder of our budget funds school and department operating costs, such as the cost of paying for specific academic programming for students.

This means that when we make reductions in our budget that have the least impact on the student and the classroom possible, staffing will be an area that will almost certainly be impacted. Even with a 5% reduction of non-personnel expenditures across all schools and departments and a hiring freeze of non-classroom and central office positions for 2020-21, we still do not come close to the amount of reductions needed to balance our budget.

To this end, I am recommending:

  • Reducing the number of new positions included in the budget for next year from 29.8 to 13.7 positions, which totals $1,514,200.
  • Reducing office, department and school non-personnel expenditures by 5%, which totals $1,777,100.
  • Imposing a hiring freeze for all Central Office and non-classroom positions except essential roles in FY 2021, which totals $750,000.
  • Eliminating the annual step increase for eligible employees, which totals $5,524,000.
  • Eliminating the 2% One-Time Bonus for staff who are at the top of their scale or are on a hold step, which totals $557,500.
  • Eliminating the 0.5% employer contribution to the Supplemental Retirement, which totals $866,400.

While these budget reductions will impact some of our employees’ take-home salary, we are fortunate to not be required to implement a reduction in our workforce at this time. It is important that we understand the budget reduction recommendations that were presented last week may potentially increase in the near future if we do not see an uptick in our economy and revitalization of dollars appropriated to ACPS from city, local, state, and federal funding sources.

We are fortunate in ACPS to have a community and a city that values public education and that despite the challenges ahead, continues to support us. We are fortunate to have a city manager who truly believes in our work in ACPS; a city council that is making tough decisions to ensure that our young people have their needs met with taxpayers in mind; and a School Board that is always willing to advocate on behalf of all of our students regardless of their life’s circumstances.

While these are not easy times for any of us, we need to keep in mind that this is a situation being replicated across the United States and the world. Climbing out of this crisis is going to require sacrifices from us all. It is important that we work collaboratively through these unprecedented times and continue to keep our students as the hallmark of our efforts.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay informed!


Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr.
Superintendent of Schools


Your Questions Answered

In the last video Q&A, Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. answered questions on the proposed budget revisions.

Watch the Q&A video or see answers to your questions below and in the updated FAQ.

View the superintendent’s revised budget presentation (PDF).

Watch Friday’s School Board Work Session on the Revised Budget.

Revised Budget Frequently Asked Questions

You can view all Revised Budget Frequently Asked Questions on the ACPS-at-Home website.

Is ACPS changing its budget priorities for next year in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Even though we are experiencing a pandemic, the needs of our students and staff remain. It is imperative that we continue to focus these FY 2021 Budget Priorities as we determine the expenditures to reduce. The Board-approved FY 2021 Budget Priorities continue to set the foundation for our budget approach.

How has the City Manager’s revisions to his initial proposed budget impacted ACPS?

The city manager proposed a revised FY 2021 City Budget (PDF) that the city appropriations to ACPS be reduced by $7.4 million for FY 2021 as well as deferring construction funding for the High School Project from FY 2021 to FY 2023. The city manager calculated the $7.4 million reduction based on the elimination of salary enhancements for FY 2021. This revised budget was approved by the city council on April 29, 2020.

Is ACPS impacted by any other state or federal reductions?

In addition to the reduction of city appropriations, we must keep in mind that our local, state and federal appropriations will be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns. The Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been established to provide relief funds to state and local education agencies and Alexandria has been allocated some emergency funding through this.

What are the total reductions in revenue that ACPS can expect next year?

  • City appropriation transfer to ACPS Operating Budget: -$7.4 million
  • State revenue: -$4 million. This includes a loss in projected State sales tax and Lottery funding.
  • Local revenue loss due to the closure of buildings (includes building rentals, tuition, fees, etc.): -$300,000

How much in total cuts does ACPS anticipate it needs to make?

ACPS is anticipating it will need to cut $11,709,700 from the Operating/Combined Funds Budget approved in February 2020.

How is the superintendent proposing to make up the shortfall? 

Health and dental plans came in under projected amounts, which will enable health benefit savings of $720,500.

ACPS had been intending to contribute 0.5% to employees’ Supplemental Retirement. The school division will no longer be able to contribute the intended $866,400 to this retirement fund. This is likely to result in the employee contribution needing to be increased in the future.

The superintendent is proposing to eliminate the annual step increase in his revised budget. This will reduce the budget by $5,524,000.

The superintendent is proposing to eliminate the 2% one-time bonus for staff who are at the top of their scale or are on a hold step. This will reduce the budget by $557,500.

The superintendent is proposing to reduce the number of new positions included in the budget for next year from 29.8 to 13.7 positions. The positions that remain in the budget are essential. This will reduce the budget by $1,514,200.

All ACPS offices, departments and schools have been asked to identify a 5% reduction in non-personnel expenditures for FY 2021. This will reduce the budget by $1,777,100.

The superintendent is proposing a hiring freeze for all Central Office and non-classroom positions in FY 2021. This will reduce the budget by $750,000. Vital positions would go through a review and approval before being advertised.

Will some groups still get the Market Rate Adjustment (MRA)?

Any of the specific groups previously recommended for MRAs in the approved budget are still in line to get these Market Rate Adjustments. This includes paraprofessional IVs; transportation workers; elementary, preK-8 and middle school principals; and chiefs. These groups were part of a compensation study that showed their salary rates are below the average for the region. Therefore, these increases are part of a long-term plan to bring ACPS salaries in line with other divisions in the area.

How will these adjustments impact take-home pay for staff?

The impact to an individual’s take-home pay depends on the health care benefits each employee chooses. UnitedHealthcare plan’s premium is expected to increase 8.5%, while Kaiser Permanente increases by 4.5%. If the employee does not have health care through ACPS, their take-home pay will remain the same.

How much state and federal support can ACPS expect? 

The Governor announced that Alexandria is anticipated to receive a one-time payment of $3,631,222.12 under the terms of the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act, approved by Congress and signed into law on March 27. This is roughly $70,000 more than anticipated.

Will the CARES Act funding help offset budget cuts?

The CARES Act funding will enable ACPS to move forward with initiatives to address gaps and inequities that have been brought into clear focus as a result of COVID-19. It will not help offset budget reductions for next school year. The CARES Act supports school divisions in reducing their losses in regards to COVID-19, rather than providing for the future.

This funding can be spent on:

  • Services and expenses directly related to the pandemic, such as cleaning of schools and other facilities;
  • Expenses related to providing extended learning opportunities, including summer and after-school programs;
  • Instructional and support services for economically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, homeless students, migrant students, students in foster care, and racial and ethnic minority students;
  • Expenses related to expanding and improving distance learning options for all students;
  • Mental health services; and
  • Career and Technical Education.

Is this the last of the budget cuts or can we expect more?

City Manager Mark Jinks has said that a large degree of uncertainty remains as to whether the City’s revenue projections are too high and further reductions will be needed in FY 2021. If economic recovery is slower than projected, further reductions may also be needed for FY 2022. City staff will undertake a deep review of programs and priorities starting this summer to be ready to take action to reduce spending during FY 2021 or FY 2022 if needed. In addition, state revenue items such as sales tax and lottery funding can be affected by continued closures, as well as school building rental revenue.

How will it impact the timeline and funding for The High School Project?

ACPS is already funded for this financial year for the design, engineering and related pre-construction services for The High School Project. The City Manager has proposed deferring the construction funding for this project until FY 2023, which is from July 2022 to June 2023. The High School Project team will continue to aim for the opening of the new building space in September 2024 and work through the process with the city on any partial funding needed to meet that schedule.

Have Feedback on the Revised Budget?

You can provide your feedback to the Superintendent via the “Contact Us” section of the ACPS website.

You can give feedback during the School Board meetings via public comment. Information on the School Board meetings and how to give feedback can be found on the School Board Meetings webpage.

More Information on the Revised Budget

You can find out more about the impact of COVID-19 on the ACPS Operating/Combined Funds Budget and the Capital Improvement Program Budget on the ACPS-at-Home website.

Live Webinar for PreK-2nd Grade Parents on May 14

Do you have a preschooler or kindergartner stacking breakfast dishes while you try to Zoom with your work colleagues? Maybe your second grader keeps asking for help with a school assignment while you are busy writing a memo.

We have heard plenty of stories and believe it or not, some of us are right there with you. That is why we have asked Dr. Fran Prolman, an experienced educator and published author, to speak with our families with the youngest students through a live Zoom webinar on Thursday, May 14 at 3 p.m. She will provide a presentation but leave plenty of time to answer your questions.

No need to register in advance, just join the Zoom webinar at the scheduled time.


We want to hear from you! Send us a photo, video or story about your experiences while school is closed. Email us at


Learning Together: At-Home Tips from One ACPS Family to Another

Have a learning tip that works well for your child, or a particularly interesting project or story you think others would enjoy? We invite you to share it with the entire ACPS learning community!

Upload your video or audio story or post it to the ACPS Facebook page.

See this great example from one parent and her son.

Food Distribution

ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.


Grab and Go breakfast, lunch and snack meals are available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the following locations:

  • William Ramsay Elementary School
    5700 Sanger Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22311
  • Francis C. Hammond Middle School
    4646 Seminary Road, Alexandria, VA 22304
  • Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology
    3600 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
  • Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School
    1501 Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
  • T.C. Williams High School
    3330 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22304

And available at our “Pop-Up” sites located at:

  • Mason Apartments at South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Brent Place Apartments at 375 South Reynolds Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Ruby Tucker Family Center at 322 Tancil Court, Alexandria, VA 22314
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Community Lodgings at 607 Notabene Drive, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Old Towne West Apartments (parking lot) at 500 South Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
    11:20 to 11:50 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Corner of Florence Drive and Four Mile Road, Alexandria, VA 22305
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • The Fields at 4309 Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22304
    10:45 to 11:15 a.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Bennington Crossing Apartments at 441 North Armistead Street, Alexandria, VA 22312
    11:30 a.m. to noon, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays

NO SIGN UP OR REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED TO RECEIVE MEALS. Meals consist of breakfast, lunch and snack and include, for example, fresh fruits and vegetables and sandwiches for multiple days.

NOTE: No food distribution will occur on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The limited days for distribution is to support the practice of social distancing and to limit social gatherings. Meals for two days will be provided on the pick-up days, (Monday/Wednesday/Friday).

Other Food Resources in the City of Alexandria

For food pantry locations and schedules in Alexandria, visit or call ‪703-662-1067.

Questions? Or Need Translation?

Send us your question in Spanish, Arabic or Amharic:

  • Text ACPSMEALS to 797979 (English and Spanish)
  • Call or text 703-927-6866 (Amharic)
  • Call or text 703-927-7095 (Arabic)


Call the FACE Center’s Bilingual Parent Information Lines:

  • For Spanish, call 571-775-9719, Monday-Friday (9 a.m. — 5 p.m.)
  • For Amharic, call 703-927-6866, Monday-Friday (9 a.m. — 1 p.m.)
  • For Arabic, call 703-927-7095, Tuesday-Thursday (9 a.m. — 3:30 p.m.)

SAFETY REMINDER: Please remember to observe social distancing practices while at the food distribution site by maintaining six feet of personal space between you and other families or individuals.

Anyone exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness like fever, runny nose, sore throat, coughing or difficulty breathing on the day of food distribution or in the previous 24 hours should not visit a food distribution site but call a health care provider instead. If you do not have a primary care physician and are not enrolled in a clinic, you may CALL an urgent care center or emergency room.


The Teen Wellness Center at T.C. Williams is still open regular hours Monday through Friday for all Alexandrians ages 12-19. All services are provided in the clinic and if the teen is ill with an elevated temperature (100.0 or more) we will see them through our telehealth video format. Make an appointment over the phone by calling 703-746-4776.


The City of Alexandria and the Alexandria Health Department strongly urge everyone to follow state orders to STAY HOME except for essential trips such as food purchases and medical care, and keep 6 feet apart from others when in public. Your neighbors and loved ones are counting on you to stop the spread of COVID-19. For other questions about COVID-19, call the Alexandria COVID-19 Hotline at 703-746-4988, weekdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional updates can be found at

Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty

Check out the City of Alexandria webpage Coping with COVID-19 Fear and Uncertainty which includes the COVID-19 Wellness Resource Guide.


Please consider donating through ACT For Alexandria and the COVID-19 Response Fund if you are able. 

Community members who would like to volunteer should reach out to or 703-836-2176 to register for any additional potential volunteer opportunities.


Continuity of School Support and Academic Advisement

School Student Support Team staff, including school counselors, school nurses, school psychologists, and school social workers will be available during school hours throughout the closure. Monday — Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. staff will be connecting with students and their families. The Department of Student Services, Alternative Programs and Equity staff members are also available during this time and can be contacted by voicemail and at

Emergency Supports

If there is a crisis or emergency during the time of the closure, students and families can access the supports below:

We know that this is a challenging time. ACPS will continue to share information through the ACPS website, social media, and email. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your student’s school counselor or school social worker with any questions.


Don’t Feel Well?
Contact your primary health care physician. Don’t have insurance? Contact Neighborhood Health at 703-535-5568.


Have questions, concerns or feedback? Contact us.

Stay Healthy!
Wash your hands regularly. Regular soap is OK.

ACPS, Coronavirus