This week, the School Board unanimously approved their Final Operating Budget for the next school year, which will see ACPS funded to a total of $286.4 million and $36.8 million for capital projects.
The Operating Budget, which is driven largely by staffing costs, is focused on ensuring equitable distribution of resources among students and improving standards of excellence, both in the classroom and for school facilities.
The budget adds 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. 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.
The Final Operating Budget also restored the positions for 20 full time custodians while continuing to transition to outsourced services.
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 final budget includes a 1% market rate adjustment in addition to a full step increase in pay for all eligible staff. This will continue to allow ACPS to be more competitive with school divisions across the D.C. metro area and continue to attract, recruit, support and retain exemplary staff who demonstrate vision, integrity and passion. In addition to these salary enhancements, funding has been approved to conduct a third party compensation study for administrators and other employee groups to ensure competitiveness and parity.
ACPS has also made changes to the design of health care benefit plans, including an additional option that provides staff more flexibility in controlling their health care costs. Staff will 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 adds 11 positions aligned with enrollment growth. While ACPS is not projected to grow as rapidly next year as it has 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 or reduced price meals, and students with disabilities.
ACPS will receive $36.8 million for capital projects for FY 2020. The School Board’s total FY 2020-2029 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Budget includes $479.5 million. This provides funding for The High School Project, the modernization of three elementary schools, an additional school in the out-years of the CIP to accommodate expected enrollment growth, and a modernization of the transportation facility.
In addition to the facilities requirements, the CIP also now includes the textbook replacement schedule originally proposed by the School Board in the operating budget. This coming school year, ACPS will purchase secondary math textbooks and create a cycle of textbook renewal to ensure consistent delivery of instruction to all students.
The budget closely follows the city-wide recommendations made in November 2017 by the Ad-Hoc Joint City-Schools Facilities Task Force and ensures the overall capital goals of the city and school division remain aligned.
Collaboration with the City will be key to resolving facilities issues and setting the schools on a positive trajectory for the future.
The ACPS budget team has worked diligently and collaboratively with staff, administration and the board to provide a budget process that has recently received the award for Best Practices in School Budgeting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
What does this budget mean for your child’s educational experience next year?
The High School Project
- $15.4 million in soft costs for The High School Project in FY 2020.
- Over the past two years, ACPS and the City have established joint planning that allows discussion of land acquisition, possible grade level configurations, site suitability and best use of City and ACPS assets. This will continue next school year.
Funding for Additional Safety Training
- The School Board has approved an additional $37,000 to support Violent Intruder Training and refine school safety drills and school safety plans.
- $0.9 million has been allocated to upgrade the security management system and cameras across all schools and buses.
- $1.8 million has been allocated to fund the addition of three new buses to accommodate growing enrollment and refined bus routes as well as replace buses and vehicles beyond their useful life.
Douglas MacArthur Modernization and Swing Space Requirements
Funding required as a result of the decision to use the existing Patrick Henry building as swing space for Douglas MacArthur Elementary School will be incorporated as part of the FY 2021-2030 Superintendent’s Proposed Capital Improvement Program Budget.
This will allow ACPS to have more accurate information as to what funding is needed at the time. Existing funds in the FY 2019 CIP will be used to pursue this project through FY 2020. ACPS and City staff will also be working collaboratively to update construction estimates for the FY 2021-2030 Superintendent’s Proposed CIP.
School Renovations and Upgrades
- Funds have been allocated in FY 2020 for renovation work at George Washington Middle School, and general repairs and upgrades at Francis C. Hammond Middle School, John Adams and Matthew Maury elementary schools and Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology. Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School and James K. Polk, Samuel W. Tucker, William Ramsay and Charles Barrett elementary schools, as well as Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy and both campuses of T.C. Williams High School will also receive funds for upgrades to their facilities.
- Mount Vernon Community School will receive almost $3 million next school year to complete work identified in the November 2018 building assessment and a kitchen update.
- The rowing facility for T.C. Williams will also get an upgrade to the fire alarm and sprinkler system.
New Classroom Materials for Math
This coming school year’s CIP Budget supports the purchase of new secondary math textbooks and materials to align instructional resources with the Virginia Standards of Learning.
Retention of Good Teachers and Staff
We know that attracting and retaining good teachers and staff is essential. Eligible employees will receive the equivalent of a step raise, which on average is a 2.6 percent increase, plus a market rate adjustment of one percent. Those on a “hold step” or at the top of the scale will receive a one percent increase instead of the step adjustment.