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The Alexandria City School Board voted to approve the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 Combined Funds Budget which is focused on staff compensation, expanding access and improving the quality of out-of-school learning, as well as social, emotional and academic learning supports for students in preschool through grade 12. The initial budget had been proposed to the School Board by Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. on Jan. 6, 2022.
“The School Board thanks community members who shared their input with us during this budget process. We value our partnership with the superintendent, staff, the city manager and the Alexandria City Council to ensure we have a school division budget that allows ACPS to continue to support its students and families, retain highly qualified staff, and provide the tools for our students’ academic and social-emotional learning needs,” said School Board Chair Meagan L. Alderton.
This streamlined FY 2023 Combined Funds Budget of $345.8 million supports a competitive salary and benefits program to enable ACPS to continue to recruit and retain high-quality staff, including an average 2.6% salary step increase and a market rate adjustment of 2.5% for eligible staff. Also, it includes a 2% one-time payment of base salary for those who are not eligible for a step increase due to being on a hold step or at the top of their scale, and market-rate adjustments for select staff — including bus drivers, bus monitors, bus mechanics, paraprofessionals, elementary and middle school principals and department chiefs — to make those salaries competitive in the region. ACPS continues to fund its share for the cost of benefit programs such as the Virginia Retirement System and ACPS’ Supplemental Retirement Fund to ensure these funds remain economically viable.
“The FY 2023 Combined Funds Budget will allow the division to focus on K-4 literacy, address chronic absenteeism and develop a comprehensive communications plan that incorporates all modes of communication, among other priorities. This budget strives to strengthen our recruitment and retention efforts by raising teacher pay by more than 5%, maintaining high-quality healthcare benefits, and providing resources for staff to grow their careers. We look forward to being able to provide the tools needed to support the success of our community, students, and staff members in FY 2023,” said Chief Financial Officer Dominic Turner.
The budget also provides increased support for maintaining and improving learning spaces, a commitment to professional learning as well as growth opportunities and instructional excellence. Additional priorities in the approved budget support the current areas of focus, including Grades K-4 literacy, equitable Talented and Gifted (TAG) identification of Black and Hispanic students, and high school graduation rates among Hispanic male students. These investments are intended to build upon the all-time highest ACPS graduation rate of 91% in 2021 and the school division’s lowest dropout rate ever of 5% in 2021.
“I thank the School Board for approving our FY 2023 Budget that makes it possible for our school division to keep investing in the future of our students and in our staff who work so hard to help our students learn and thrive,” said Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. “I also want to thank our Chief Financial Officer Dominic Turner and our Finance Services team for ensuring this budget process ran smoothly and for providing information and updates to our Board members and community.”
The School Board approved allocating funds to further address chronic absenteeism and high school graduation rates among Hispanic males by increasing staffing levels in the College and Career Center. The Board also dedicated funding to conduct a comprehensive review of ACPS’ salary scales to bring forward recommendations to better align compensation in a competitive market. Funding remains in the FY 2023 Approved Budget to expand access and improve the quality of out-of-school learning. Virtual learning has allowed staff to reimagine educational opportunities and instructional delivery, and has also posed social and emotional challenges for staff and students. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds will continue to aid in the recovery of learning loss and address trauma experienced during the pandemic.
In keeping with its commitment to place racial equity at the heart of all its decision-making, the School Board’s Approved Budget supports the continued focus and implementation of the 2025 Strategic Plan: Equity for All. A summary of the budget process can be found on the ACPS Budget webpage. View the School Board memo with information on the budget (PDF) from the Feb. 10, 2022 Board meeting.
To facilitate community engagement in the budget adoption process, the School Board conducted three work sessions on the Combined Funds Budget in January and February and a Public Hearing was held on Jan. 21, 2022. The City Council will adopt its budget for the year ahead, including the appropriation to ACPS, on May 4, 2022.