Chesterfield County School Board approves FY 2019 budget and capital improvement plan

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The Chesterfield County School Board unanimously approved a Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget as well as a capital improvements plan during its Feb. 12 business meeting.

The School Board’s approved operating budget totals $654.7 million and includes 7,218.5 full-time positions. The approved FY 2019 operating budget represents a 5.3 percent increase from FY 2018. (Approximately $12.2 million of the additional $32.9 million realized in the budget is one-time funding, more than half of which is school division savings from previous years that is being returned by the Board of Supervisors for use in school construction projects.)

“This community has repeatedly made clear that our public schools are priority No. 1 and often are cited as the reason many of us choose to live and raise families in Chesterfield County,” School Board Chair John Erbach said. “As such, this School Board takes seriously the responsibility at hand, putting this community’s No. 1 priority into action through a budget that meets the needs of our students.

“We would like to thank our many residents who understand the critical role that a strong public education system plays in a community. We are careful stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, and believe we have invested well during the past several years. Our gains show strong growth: the closing of student achievement gaps, solid academic achievement measurements when compared against our peers and a teacher salary scale that is one of the most competitive in the region.”

After a months-long discussion on how best to meet students’ and staff members’ needs, here are some of the many highlights:

  • COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS: Funding supports a 2 percent salary increase for all eligible employees; accounts for an expected 8 percent employer rate increase for healthcare costs; and provides additional support for the supplemental retirement plan.
  • ACADEMIC ENHANCEMENTS: Funding supports enhancement of our ongoing work to measure student growth, while also increasing opportunities through CodeRVA, alternative education and gifted education means.
  • SAFE, SUPPORTIVE AND NURTURING LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS: Funding to support the insourcing of custodians to better serve schools during the school day. (Existing funding will continue to be directed to new custodial services vendors who will clean at night.)
  • SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION: Increases debt service funding and pay-go funding to support plans to rebuild four elementary schools approved by voters in the 2013 school bond referendum; this will result in new Crestwood, Ettrick, Harrowgate and Reams elementary schools instead of extensive renovations.

In order to meet needs identified by the various stakeholder groups, the School Board also made several changes to the Superintendent’s proposed budget. The School Board’s actions supported:

  • Additional funding to increase substitute pay.
  • Additional special education teachers to reduce pupil-teacher ratios.
  • A data warehouse that will allow the school division to better track student performance.
  • Additional coordinators of assessment and remediation targeted to our middle schools.

Although the school division’s budget is growing by approximately $20 million in additional funding that would be included in a base FY 2020 operating budget, cuts were required to meet the needs identified as most critical. They include:

  • A 5 percent reduction to central office department budgets.
  • The elimination of the Employee Assistance Program.
  • The downgrade of the school division’s membership in the Math Science Innovation Center.
  • The elimination of one position in the Central Department.

A complete list of enhancements and reductions to the base budget is available here.

“There are no wants in the School Board’s FY 2019 budget, only needs,” said Erbach, who represents the Dale District. “To that end, we are submitting a two-part budget. Part one is a balanced budget based on the county’s funding letter. Part two is a list of three unfunded priority items: facilities funding for major maintenance projects, additional pupil-teacher reduction funding and the restoration of pool positions to support any unexpected student enrollment growth.”

The School Board’s three unfunded priorities are:

  • $3,477,000 for major maintenance projects at older schools (funding provided during the last five budget cycles has gone to support reinvestment in teachers and classroom instruction).
  • $1,632,000 for 28 additional teaching positions to continue the pupil-teacher reduction initiative identified in previous five-year plans.
  • $1,595,000 for 27.5 teaching positions to restore positions eliminated that otherwise would be used to accommodate unexpected growth in student enrollments.

 

“The approved budget continues our work to reinvest strategically in classrooms, create clean learning environments and provide 21st-century schools and classrooms,” School Board Vice Chair Rob Thompson said. “By investing in education, we are preparing students for successful futures and our county for a better tomorrow. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors to determine ways to meet our unfunded priorities.”

The School Board’s approved FY 2019 operating plan can be found here.