The Combined Funds Budget proposes changes that will directly impact pay and benefits for all staff. Our goal is to ensure that we are supporting our staff while also providing a competitive salary and benefits program to recruit and retain great employees.
These proposed changes include a salary step increase for eligible staff, a one-time bonus for those who are not eligible for a step increase, and market rate adjustments for select staff to make their salaries competitive in the region. These increases will help offset increases in the cost of health care premiums.
Additionally, as the employer, ACPS will pay for the cost of benefit program increases to the Virginia Retirement System and the ACPS Supplemental Retirement Fund.
Step Increase and Bonus
The proposed budget allocates $5,521,800 for a step increase for eligible staff. Your current step is indicated on your annual contract. You can check on the Compensation and Salaries web page of the ACPS website to see if you could be eligible for a step increase as of July 1, 2020.
Any member of staff who is not eligible for a step increase — anyone who is already at the top of their salary scale or who will be advancing to a salary step that is the same rate of their current step (called a “hold step”) — will receive a one-time 2% salary bonus. $557,500 has been set aside for these bonuses.
Market Rate Adjustment for Select Staff
$461,800 has been set aside for market rate adjustments for those staff whose job categories were reviewed under a compensation study. These include:
- Bus drivers
- Bus monitors
- Bus mechanics
- Elementary and middle school principals
- Department chiefs who report directly to the Superintendent under the new organizational structure and sit on the Superintendent’s Leadership Team as of July 1, 2020
These groups were initially identified for a market rate adjustment following a preliminary comparison of job salaries to neighboring school divisions. Later, an independent compensation study by a third party provided a detailed analysis of compensation for these groups of staff. As a result of these studies, the superintendent is recommending a market rate adjustment to bring the salaries of these groups into line with other neighboring school jurisdictions.
The compensation study will be posted on Electronic School Board as part of the January 16 work session presentation materials.
Why is this market rate adjustment important?
ACPS has to remain competitive within the Northern Virginia region in order to attract and retain high quality staff.
Our bus drivers, for example, were among the lowest paid starting salaries for school bus drivers in the region. Given the national shortage of bus drivers that has also impacted ACPS this school year, it is essential to review both the salaries we pay our bus drivers and explore other ways to attract and retain this group.
We also need to retain our paraprofessionals, principals and staff in order to maintain the strides we have already made and continue to see academic growth and improved support-services cross our school division.
Health Care Insurance Changes
The cost of health care in the United States continues to rise. To keep pace with this rise, our insurance providers, UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente, are projecting 8.5% premium increases. Dental premiums will increase by 8%. Therefore, ACPS — which pays roughly 80% of all health insurance costs for staff — is budgeting an additional $2,622,900 to cover these costs.
This means that if you are paying $100 for health care insurance this year, your cost will be $108 starting July 1, 2020.
Our health care package for staff is one of the best in the region. ACPS staff currently pay up to 20% of their health care premium, whereas in other neighboring jurisdictions this can range from 27% to 40%. ACPS is one of the top employers in the region because of its benefits package.
Virginia Retirement System
The Virginia Retirement System has changed its rates. The rate change is going to cost ACPS an additional $1,710,200. There is no cost to you for this increase. As your employer, ACPS will pay this cost for you.
ACPS Supplemental Retirement Contribution
Changes in this area will benefit all staff. Current employees contribute 1.5% of their salary to the ACPS Supplemental Retirement Fund. This next school year, ACPS will contribute an additional 0.5% of an employee’s salary towards their supplemental retirement fund. As an employer, ACPS has not contributed towards this supplemental fund in the past. Starting July 2020, the school division will contribute $845,700 this to ensure the economic viability of the fund.
Got Questions or Interested in Finding Out More?
There are two work sessions on the Combined Funds Budget. The first is on Thursday, January 16 at 7 p.m. This is the date when the salary adjustments and healthcare changes will be discussed. The second session is on Thursday, January 30 at 7 p.m.
Both can be watched live on ACPS-TV, local cable channel 71 or via ACPS-TV on the ACPS website.
There is a Public Hearing for the Budget on Thursday, January 23 in the School Board Room at 1340 Braddock Place at 7 p.m. Sign up in advance if you wish to speak.
A summary of the budget process can be found on the ACPS Budget pages of the ACPS website
If you have questions after the work sessions, please contact ACPS Budget Director Robert Easley at email@example.com.