Board approves $41 million increase in investment in public education in Chesterfield

Posted on

Board approves $41 million increase in investment in public education in Chesterfield
Puts more than $20 million toward decompressing salary scales for most educators

The Chesterfield County School Board on Thursday night approved an operating budget for the 2021-22 school year that calls for a $41 million increase in spending on public education in Chesterfield County. Included in what is one of the largest investments in public education during the past 15 years is the full funding of Phase 1 of the third-party 2020 salary study for teachers and other identified school-based staff presented late last year.

The approved Fiscal Year 2022 operating plan funds the top two budget priorities identified by the School Board and Superintendent: Addressing teacher salary decompression and meeting the needs of the school division’s students, staff and schools. The investment plan also meets the various statutory and regulatory requirements placed on school divisions, continues to play catch up from the Great Recession, begins to right-size staffing and departmental operations, and focuses on safety and instructional enhancements.

“While the School Board is not in a position tonight to approve everything requested in the Superintendent’s originally proposed budget, we are thankful for a monumental $41 million increase in state and local funds that will support public education in Chesterfield County next school year,” said School Board Chair Ryan Harter, who represents the Matoaca District. “The nearly $744.8 million operating budget will allow us to maintain current levels of service, afford cost increases beyond our control, provide much-needed salary corrections to approximately 5,000 staff members, and better support the needs of our diverse learning community.”

The $41 million increase includes:

  • $25 million to address a 2020 salary study’s Phase I recommendations (decompression of salary scale) and a cost-of-living adjustment for staff not in the study
  • $10 million in non-discretionary cost increases
  • $4 million in differentiated support for schools
  • $2 million in other enhancements to improve schools

Additional school division needs will be addressed through federal funding made available to local school divisions during the international pandemic.

In the midst of a national teacher shortage, the School Board’s approved budget demonstrates the school division is serious about its efforts to recruit and retain a high-quality workforce. The 2020 salary study addresses strategies for offering competitive starting salaries, remedies the pay compression issue and maintains market competitiveness. The budget approved Thursday night addresses compression and enhances compensation for teachers and other staff working on the teacher pay scale; student support services staff; some school-based administrators and paraprofessionals. All other staff members will receive a 2 percent salary increase.

“This compression issue has lingered for far too long in our school division, and no doubt has cost our students and schools great educators in the past. Now, for the first time in about 15 years, this School Board is poised to take serious action to remedy decompression,” Harter said. “We look forward to continuing to work together with the Board of Supervisors during the next two years to implement other recommendations made in the 2020 Segal salary study, and then to move forward on market adjustments for other positions critical to our success.”

The approved budget also makes an historic investment in schools. The $4 million in differentiated funding and staffing initiatives will increase per-pupil allocations for schools for the first time in more than 20 years and provide 11-15 positions to schools based on their need. School-based teams will be able to invest this funding in what they think is needed to make education better at their school for their students.

Ettrick Elementary School’s two-year turnaround from being denied accreditation by the Virginia Department of Education to a National Title I Distinguished School demonstrates what can happen when a targeted investment is made in a school’s identified needs.

Other items funded in the approved budget can be found here.

The overall funding increase includes $18.2 in new, additional local funds from the Board of Supervisors,

$15 million in one-time funds returned to the school division by the Board of Supervisors, and $9.7 million in new, additional state funds.

“We still have work to do, but the $41 million in new revenue provided by the state and local governments begins to address school division needs that have been put off for far too long,” Harter said. “This budget, after last year’s $30 million investment of new money to support our students and staff members, leaves us excited to be a part of Chesterfield County Public Schools.”

Capital Improvements Plan

The School Board also approved a Capital Improvements Plan for FY 2022-26. The approved CIP bundles school construction into four packages:

  • Bundle 1 during FY 23 and 24: A new elementary school in the 360 West corridor and the replacement of Davis and Bensley elementary schools
  • Bundle 2 during FY 24 and 25: A new middle school in the central/eastern area of the county, a new middle school in the 360 West corridor and the replacement of Falling Creek Middle.
  • Bundle 3 during FY 25 and 26: The replacement of Midlothian Middle

Other future projects identified with construction dates to be determined included a new high school in the 360 West corridor, the replacement of Grange Hall Elementary and a new elementary school at a site to be determined. No school bond referendum date has been set.