Team Chesterfield staff members and families,
Chesterfield County Public Schools is the economic driver for our community. People like me move to our community because of outstanding schools. Our award-winning schools continue to be cited as a model for excellence in public education, and we are proud to be a school division others aspire to be like.
However, there are warning signs that cause concern. Student academic performance is slipping; mental health concerns are increasing; and staff members are leaving for higher-paying, less-stressful opportunities. Our children will suffer if we do not act now.The Fiscal Year 2021 budget I am proposing calls for a $99.9 million increase in funding, which includes resources to serve the more than 1,200 additional students projected to enroll in our schools next year. It also pro
vides historic levels of support for teachers; the required staffing levels to meet laws, guidelines and expectations; and additional funds necessary to support a diverse learning community and cover the actual costs of day-to-day operations.
I am legally obligated to propose a budget of need. That is being done, but there is a $39.7 million funding gap between that needs-based budget and the revenue currently identified in the Governor’s proposed budget and local funding levels that assume the county government will continue to provide us with 44 percent of the funds in our operating budget. It is very likely that the entire needs-based budget will not be approved, meaning that we will have to consider cuts and will not be able to meet all of public education’s needs.
Based on revenue growth in local real estate collections, our county has the capacity to increase local funding. The state believes so, too. The state’s Local Composite Index for our school division has been adjusted based on its assessment that our county is a wealthier community than in years past. (This change cost the school division approximately $4 million in state revenue.)
This proposed 14.7 percent increase to our operating budget is not a wish list. It is the costs of doing business in 2020.
- Approximately 37 percent of the budgeted increase goes to support staff compensation initiatives, designed to attract and retain the best teachers, administrators and support staff.
- Approximately 20 percent of the budgeted increase goes to meet staffing requirements (state),
- staffing guidelines (state) and staffing expectations (community).
- Approximately 14 percent of the budgeted increase goes to support increased costs in operations
- and transportation.
- Nearly 13 percent of the budgeted increase goes to support student enrollment increases and properly staff schools from previous growth.
Throughout this document, you will see areas that we are proposing to address. The largest investments are in our staff, specifically teacher pay, and in our students, through an increase in the per-school allocation.
The budget focus is simple: We need to meet the needs of our students through appropriate staffing levels; we need to provide additional staffing to support an increasing student enrollment; we need to meet the needs of our teachers and staff by offering competitive compensation; and we need to meet the needs associated with our daily operations by funding actual costs.
We hope you will join our efforts to make sure that public education in Chesterfield County meets the needs of our students, our residents, and our community. The time is now to create a better tomorrow! Please join us in this important conversation.
Merv Daugherty, Ed.D.